The announcement last week that the federal government's Advanced Solar Telescope will be built on Haleakala is a needed jolt of good news for Maui's economy.
According to the Federal Register, National Science Foundation Director Arden Bennett selected Haleakala for the 143-foot-tall telescope and funded the $300 million project.
The Maui News story on the project last Thursday said contractors will build the telescope over the next seven years. It will be part of the University of Hawaii's Science City near the summit.
UH Institute of Astronomy Director Mike Maberry said in the article, "This will allow for the greatest advancement in our understanding of the star that allows life to exist on our planet."
The project will provide at least $80 million in construction work; provide 35 full-time jobs; and pump $18 million annually into the Maui economy. Maberry said the project also qualifies for $30 million in federal stimulus money and that over the years, many more dollars will be spent locally for supplies.
The funding also includes $2 million a year for 10 years for a science and astronomy education program at Maui Community College.
Governmental leaders have stressed for years the need to diversify our economy. This not only helps us diversify, but it places much sought after high-tech jobs right in our lap. It also could not come at a better time for our construction industry.
We hope that Native Hawaiian concerns will be addressed and that leaders will attend a discussion of the decision today from 3 to 5 p.m. at the UH Institute for Astronomy's Maikalani Advanced Technology Research Center. It is located at 34 Ohia Ku St. in Pukalani and will be hosted by Caroline Blanco, assistant general counsel to the National Science Foundation.
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