Investment to development fund poised to grow economy

Maui County’s Economic Development Revolving Fund was established in 2011 for the purpose of strengthening, growing and diversifying Maui County’s economy. The amount of $1 million was initially appropriated by the County Council in the fiscal year 2013 budget.

As chair of the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, I see great potential from this fund, such as job creation and diversification, business expansion, leveraging incoming dollars in the form of matching funding opportunities and improving the overall economic and social well-being of the county.

Over the past 10 months since taking office, I’ve been collaborating with the Office of Economic Development as it develops the program further. It’s been a dynamic experience in conjunction with OED working on this innovative approach to diversifying our economy.

This concept of government investment in the area of economic development is nothing new. There are incredible success stories from other municipalities nationwide. For example in Pennsylvania – the Ben Franklin Economic Development Fund. A study shows the state’s $140 million investment to the Ben Franklin Fund grew Pennsylvania’s economy by $9.3 billion over a four-year period, and returned $3.50 for each $1 spent to the state’s economy in addition to creating new high-wage jobs.

These communities have benefited from similar programs in areas such as development of new products, establishing production capacity and contributing to new jobs and income. They’ve also expanded the state’s tax base.

It is my vision that this fund will take participant businesses to a new level of competitiveness and diversity. In addition, our young and emerging local workforce will have expanded options and incentives to staying home in the islands, rather than moving abroad for these higher-wage jobs.

This opportunity is a win-win gain for our businesses, workforce and the county overall. I look forward to receiving formalized program guidelines and application details from the OED in the very near future.

* Don S. Guzman holds the County Council seat for the Kahului residency area. He is the chair of the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.