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Big Island's Natural Energy Laboratory Receives $1.8M for Aquaculture Development

NELH NELHA Big Island Aerial.jpg

A new $1.8 million grant will help expand an aquaculture pilot project at the Natural Energy Laboratory in Kailua-Kona, another step in the development of our blue economy.

“This Economic Development Administration investment will allow the NELHA-administered Hawaii Ocean Sciences and Technology Park to extend its Aquaculture Accelerator program and develop an associated aquaculture incubator program, helping attract new businesses and industries," said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

The grant, to be matched with nearly $460,000 in local investment, is expected to create 250 jobs and bring $40 million in private investment, according to the EDA.

The Conversation talked to Laurence Sombardier, Deputy Director at Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, to learn more.

“We do have 200 more acres on the property, and so there’s room for more projects. The thought and the hope is that HATCH aquaculture accelerator will be attracting more companies," Sombardier said. "This year, they’re focusing on a Hawaii innovation studio. The concept there is to attract and help develop very early-stage companies and develop them so that they can then be ready for a more traditional cohort and accelerator—and the idea is to focus on Hawaii, homegrown ideas and homegrown companies.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said the investment will give NELHA more resources to grow Hawaii Island’s aquaculture industry.

This story aired on The Conversation on June 3, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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