Leaders past and present to be honored

The mission of the Maui Chamber of Commerce is to advance and promote a healthy economic environment for businesses, advocating for a responsive government and quality education while preserving Maui’s unique community characteristics. Our business is growing Maui businesses and we have been supporting the business sector and our community for over 104 years.

Beginning in 1910, our first chairman was Henry Perrine Baldwin. It was the start of a strong partnership with Alexander & Baldwin, a company that has stood with us since our inception and whose legacy of support continues on. Hawaii’s main industry back then was sugar production, which required many laborers who came from Asia, Europe and America to work in the sugar plantations, and was the impetus for Hawaii’s ethnically diverse culture.

In the 1910-1919 era, residents in the Territory of Hawaii had a very different life. Transportation options included horse-drawn buggies, a tramway and railroads.

Before the World War II, Hawaii’s population was around 423,000, the majority of which (roughly 310,000) were Asian, with 105,000 considered white (with Portuguese and Spanish immigrants) by the census.

World War II hit home on Dec. 7, 1941. At the peak of the war, the number of troops stationed on Maui exceeded 100,000. The main base of the 4th Marine Division was in Haiku. Kihei beaches were used for training and practice landings. After the war, thousands of former GIs remained in the islands and those who did not settle in Hawaii often returned to visit, further changing the demographics and helping to create our visitor industry.

The Maui chamber addressed agricultural growth and labor supply during its first 40 years, with an emphasis on statehood in the early 1950s.

Kazua Kage was sent to Honolulu for the Statehood Convention with the blessing of the chamber. He later became chairman of the organization in 1954.

Maui’s first resort hotel, Hotel Hana, opened in 1946. In 1961, Maui’s first planned resort community opened at Kaanapali on former pineapple plantation lands. Concentrated efforts were being made to grow our visitor industry.

On May 6, 1989, the chamber office was all but destroyed by fire. The business community responded quickly with donated temporary office space and support during the reconstruction. The board (under the leadership of Chair Rita Barksdale), staff and community rallied to quickly reopen the chamber. The new chamber blessing was held September 1989.

The Maui Chamber of Commerce now focuses on diverse industries (from every sector found on Maui), and business, economic and community issues that affect Maui and our state.

On Friday, we will honor our leaders at the annual Installation Luncheon and induct our new board of directors. The event is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, which, like the chamber, is committed to helping others thrive. The luncheon will be held at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa from noon to 2 p.m. and Gov. Neil Abercrombie will give the keynote address, speaking on what the state is doing for a healthy economic environment.

The price is $50 for chamber members and $60 for nonmembers. Don’t miss this opportunity to network with the people shaping Maui’s business community. Call 244-0081 for reservations today.

The Maui Chamber of Commerce has been through the bubonic plague, war, fire, rats and flood and is still standing today – all because of the committed business leaders who believe in and carry out the mission of the organization to move the business sector and community positively forward.

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