The Chamber View: Businesses recognized, promoted and challenged

While things are always busy at the Maui Chamber of Commerce, we tend to be particularly busy at the beginning of the legislative session when so many new bills are heard and decisions are being made on whether bills will move forward. This was one of those weeks.

It was also exhilarating to work with the county Office of Economic Development on the 2013 Mayor’s Small Business Awards, hold our February Business After Hours at the J. Walter Cameron Center, and prepare for a new Maui Chamber of Commerce radio program called “Business Matters.”

Testimony was provided on many bills, opposing measures that increase the cost of doing business and supporting efforts to diversify the economy and expand our economic pie. Legislative alerts are sent to members on priority issues, and all businesses are encouraged to submit testimony and share how bills that raise costs will hurt them. As many bills do not adequately weigh the impact on business and the economy, legislators need to hear from business owners now to prevent harmful legislation from moving forward.

Good news! We and the county Office of Economic Development were thrilled to have 30 nominations (up from 2012) made for the 2013 Mayor’s Small Business Award. The last few years have been extremely challenging for small businesses and surviving has been no easy feat. All still standing should be recognized for that accomplishment alone.

Yet, despite the recession and slow economic recovery, there are many outstanding businesses that have gone beyond survival – innovating, creating phenomenal work environments, investing in their business, developing new products and services, contributing to their community, and more. These awards were created for that very reason: to acknowledge and honor outstanding small businesses in Maui County.

All nominees, as well as the awardees, will be recognized on Thursday at the King Kamehameha Golf Clubhouse, Waikapu Ballroom, at 6 p.m., with the winners announced that night. The event is hosted by the county Office of Economic Development and the Maui Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank and VIP Foodservice. The public is invited to attend. Tickets are $60. Please call the chamber at 244-0081 to reserve your tickets today.

February’s Business After Hours was held at the J. Walter Cameron Center as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. It was wonderful to hear center officials’ plans for renovating the facility and how they are saving money and generating significant power with their photovoltaic system. A capital campaign for needed improvements is under way to keep the facility in great shape for the next 100 years. The center houses 17 social service agencies.

As board Chairman Alan Kaufman put it, “This is a place where miracles happen.” He commended the excellent work of Executive Director Cesar Gaxiola on the renovation plans and fundraising effort. As the latest tenant at the center, having moved in late last week and still unpacking this week, the chamber is excited about being there and supporting the center’s efforts.

The chamber also has been preparing for its upcoming radio show, “Business Matters,” which will be held in partnership with KAOI on Mondays from 7 to 8 a.m. on 1110 AM and 96.7 FM. The show will feature news and information about business issues and chamber activities, measures impacting businesses this legislative session, member spotlights, Made in Maui products, a nonprofit moment, and business-builder tips. It all begins on Monday, Presidents Day, and we hope you will tune in to learn more about and why “Business Matters” and share it with others.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.