Astronomy has been economic boon for Big Island

HILO (AP) – Astronomy has been good for the Hawaii economy, especially the Big Island, according to a report by the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Direct and indirect benefits in 2012 totaled nearly $168 million in the state, including nearly $91.5 million on Hawaii Island, the report concluded.

“The astronomy sector in Hawaii generates economic activity through its purchases from local businesses, its payment to its employees and spending by students and visitors,” the report said.

Direct spending on the Big Island totaled $58.43 million. Another $25.8 million was spent on Oahu, $2.6 million on Maui and $1.3 million on Kauai, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The spending translated into $8.15 million in state taxes and 1,394 state jobs.

“Nearly 70 percent of local spending occurred in Hawaii County,” the report says. “The $58.43 million of expenditures attributed to astronomy activities in Hawaii County alone generated $91.48 million in local business sales.”

Roy Gal, spokesman for the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, said astronomy’s impacts are widespread.

“A lot of people don’t realize, it’s not just astronomers on the island spending money,” he said. “You’ve got telescope technicians and engineers and staff and all those folks living on Hawaii Island.”


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