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Hawaiʻi Island hui could get up to $100M to build agriculture industry, improve food security

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

A Hawaiʻi Island hui of government agencies and nonprofits is a finalist for a federal grant that could be worth up to $100 million.

The Hawaiʻi Island Coalition seeks to create a robust agricultural economy on Hawaiʻi Island and aims to divert 20% of the state’s imported food to local producers.

In the process, the hui said it would create thousands of jobs and help build a more resilient food system in the state.

The U.S. Department of Commerce named the coalition as a finalist for the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The hui, led by the County of Hawaiʻi, consists of organizations like the Maʻona Community Garden, Hawaiʻi Food Basket, and the University of Hawaiʻi.

The coalition will receive $500,000 to further develop its application and compete in the next round for the grant funding.

It is one of 60 finalists selected from more than 500 applications. Biden's challenge will leverage $1 billion — with 30 winners receiving grants worth between $25-100 million to develop local initiatives.

“This announcement is great news for the Big Island and the state,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. “I’ll do everything I can to get this application over the finish line and make sure Hawai‘i secures this federal funding.”

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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