Hawaii’s 2020 Business Challenges and Opportunities

Jan 10, 2020

For a look ahead at 2020, Pacific Business News checked in with a range of industries to find out more about their biggest opportunities and challenges.

Hawaii’s labor shortage has been top of mind in many industries, and it’s especially pressing in health care. Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii notes that there are more than 2,200 open positions in Hawaii for non-physician jobs that directly interact with patients. Such positions are taking on average six months to a year to fill. In 2020, the association will seek a state grant to develop workforce initiatives for Hawaii’s hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home care agencies, hospices and more.

Sustainability is the focus for hospitality in 2020, according to Chris Tatum, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. This includes a greater emphasis on emphasizing Native Hawaiian culture throughout the industry as well as efforts protect the environment and natural resources from the industry’s footprint.

In the nonprofit world, the Hawaii Community Foundation has great influence in coordinating the efforts of many independent nonprofits toward the same end. HCF’s focus this year continues to be sustainability of a more personal sort — that is, Hawaii’s ability to sustain a middle class. It will be back again at the Legislature this year pushing for more moderate- to low-income rental housing as part of its CHANGE framework, named for its six priorities ranging from community and economy to education.

One point of disclosure related to this story: Hawaii Public Radio receives some funding from the Hawaii Community Foundation and its CHANGE Initiative.