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Partnerships help community weather COVID-19 storm

OUR COUNTY

The County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development is working with community partners to put our economy on the road to recovery.

One partnership is with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the City & County of Honolulu to support “Pop-Up Makeke.” The centralized, online marketplace for local-owned businesses was established in April in response to the cancellation of the Merrie Monarch Festival and other events statewide.

Vendors’ products were displayed and sold on telecasts for eight weeks. The program generated nearly $325,000 in gross sales with more than 11,000 items sold from over 100 vendors.

In October and December, four 1-hour Pop-Up Makeke TV shows will showcase Maui County products. Local vendor products are marketed and sold online at popupmakeke.com. Interested vendors can apply at www.popupmakeke.com. Qualified vendors will be notified, and there is no cost to participate. CNHA will handle the online shop, storage of all goods, marketing and customer order fulfillment. Orders will be shipped directly to the customer at no cost to the vendor.

Another county partnership is with local musicians and halau on E Kupa’a Kakou, a livestream Hawaiian music series. Performances by Kahalawai, Amy Hanaiali’i, Kaulike Pescaia, Kumu Hula Napua Greig, Kaniala Masoe, and Ahumanu have lifted the spirits of music fans since the program began this month.

Leomana and Na Wai ‘Eha accompanied by Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi with Kumu Hula ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes will be featured on the next virtual show, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., on Sept. 25. Live streaming is done from the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Theater.

This program recognizes that performing artists are another segment of our small-business community that has been impacted by the pandemic-triggered cancellations of gatherings and events. The wonderful music and performances of these artists allow us to reconnect with our ‘ohana and culture during these difficult times.

Meanwhile, planning is ongoing for a virtual Made in Maui County Festival, which will be held with online interactions between vendors and customers. The Maui Chamber of Commerce is working with our Office of Economic Development on this successful annual event now set for the first weekend in November. More details will be announced when available.

The Maui Chamber of Commerce continues to administer the Micro Business Loan Program. So far, this program has provided $1,429,000 in loans to nearly 90 businesses throughout Maui County.

The county’s partnership with Maui County Federal Credit Union and five other credit unions launched the Kokua Maui County Small Business Recovery & Relief Fund to assist our small businesses with $6 million of support. The program has awarded grants of up to $7,500 to 557 small businesses on Maui and Molokai.

To apply for assistance or for more information visit mauinuistrong.net/kokua-maui-county or call (808) 270-5745.

Another popular initiative is the Kama’aina First program, which helped to kick-start our economy with local businesses offering great deals and discounts on the website www.kamaainafirst.com.

Online visitors can find more than 558 offers ranging from discounts on staycations, activities, meals, services, and products. Since June 8 through Sept. 13, the website had 24,793 users and 212,944 page views.

The county, through partnerships with various organizations, continues to offer other programs for those impacted by COVID-19.

The Maui County Farm Bureau, the Hawaii Farmers Union United, and individual Lanai Farmers are partnered with the county to make fresh produce available to our residents. This program has helped local farmers survive while getting much-needed food into the hands of our residents.

Local ranchers and Feed My Sheep were awarded $200,000 to provide ground beef to people in need. The funding is used to purchase cattle from various independent ranchers then processed into 1,000 pounds of ground beef per week by DeCoite Packing House.

The Office of Economic Development has teamed up with UH Maui College and the Maui County Workforce Development Board to create the online Maui County Virtual Job Fair, located at www.MauiCountyVirtualJobFair.com.

This website gives Maui County residents and employers a safe online resource to connect employment opportunities with job seekers. Information is available on career development, resumes, internships, financial aid and possible subsidized training.

We will continue to rely on partnerships to help our community weather the storm of COVID-19 and emerge Maui Nui Strong. Aloha!

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

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