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DBEDT E-newsletter - April 2024 (end of month)

DBEDT E-newsletter - April 2024 (end of month)

Aloha kākou,

In this April issue of our newsletter, we share several pivotal developments that underscore our commitment to a progressive and sustainable Hawai‘i. Our presence at the 2024 Natural Product Expo West was a success, with the Hawai‘i Pavilion standing out and setting the stage for future business opportunities.

The acquisition of the former Maui Sun Hotel is another step forward in Maui’s recovery, providing immediate housing relief and future educational and workforce housing solutions. We are also proud to announce the federal approval of Hawai‘i’s Digital Equity Plan, a major stride towards bridging the digital divide through improved internet access and digital literacy.

Additionally, the Hawai‘i Green Infrastructure Authority has been awarded $62.45 million from the U.S. EPA to significantly expand solar energy access for low-income and disadvantaged communities throughout Hawai‘i, and crucial funding to support equitable clean water projects to enhance our environmental and community health. We continue to push forward with our decarbonization goals, highlighted in the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office’s recent report with over 30 strategic recommendations.

Lastly, initiatives like the Mālama Hawai‘i Dashboard and the development of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District are moving forward, underpinning our commitment to community engagement and economic growth.

Each of these stories is a building block in our shared vision for a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all Hawai‘i residents. We invite you to read on and explore the detailed updates and insights in this issue.

Me ke aloha,

James Kunane Tokioka
DBEDT Director

Digital Equity Plan Receives Federal Approval

Hawaiʻi took a major step toward closing the digital divide with federal approval of the state’s Digital Equity Plan, paving the way for federal funding to provide greater internet access statewide and addressing other diverse digital needs.

The federal go-ahead follows months of efforts by the Hawai‘i Broadband and Digital Equity Office (HBDEO) to compile public comment and suggestions for the Hawai‘i Digital Equity Plan, which was submitted in February to the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for review and approval.

Addressing the digital divide, which persists due to inadequate affordable internet services, lack of digital skills, and limited access to laptops and computers, is a pressing concern in our local communities. The Hawai‘i Digital Equity Plan provides recommended strategies, objectives, and actions to set a pathway toward a digitally equitable future.

According to the digital equity plan, efficient broadband coverage statewide and other factors will assist all populations in three categories:

  • Workforce and economic development: Ensuring employees and work applicants have access to the Internet and computer devices and teaching the digital skills necessary for a thriving workforce to meet the demands of an evolving global economy.
  • Education: Providing all students the opportunity for in-person, online, and hybrid learning by 2030.
  • Healthcare: Making quality healthcare accessible for all Hawaiʻi residents via telehealth appointments through affordable and secure broadband service.

To stay updated on the next steps, visit our website.


Natural Product Expo West

The Business Development and Support Division (BDSD) participated in the 2024 Natural Product Expo West (NPEW) with nine Hawai‘i companies in the Hawai‘i Pavilion from March 13-15, 2024, at Anaheim Convention Center, California. Over 65,000 industry professionals attended the show, and more than 3,300 exhibiting companies worldwide showcased organic and eco-conscious products.

Showcasing the diversity and excellence of Hawai‘i’s natural products industry, the Hawai‘i Pavilion truly stood out at the 2024 Natural Products Expo West and attracted various buyers and attendees to meet with Hawai‘i companies. It was evident that Hawai‘i’s commitment to quality and integrity in its products resonated with attendees, inspiring them to incorporate these incredible products into their daily lives.

The 2024 NPEW was a huge success for the Hawai‘i Pavilion. Hawai‘i companies are looking forward to positive results from their participation this year and have already expressed interest in being part of the Hawai‘i Pavilion at the next show.


30 Statewide Recommendations for Decarbonization

The Hawaiʻi State Energy Office released Hawai‘i Pathways To Decarbonization, as specified in Act 238 (2022) affirming Hawai‘i’s role under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement to “achieve a fifty to fifty-two percent reduction in economywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels”. The report provides more than 30 recommendations for statewide strategies and actions to meet Hawai‘i’s decarbonization goals, including incentives for energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure, improvements to power plants and the establishment of a maximum carbon intensity threshold, a phased transition to cleaner fuels, a VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) reduction standard for ground transportation and incentivized permitting for public EV charging.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the Act 238 Report.


Hawaiʻi Green Infrastructure Authority Awarded $62.45 Million Under EPA Solar For All Program

The Hawai‘i Green Infrastructure Authority (HGIA) is set to receive $62.45 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This funding from the Solar for All program under the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda. It aims to enhance accessibility to affordable solar energy for low-income households and disadvantaged communities across Hawai‘i.

Governor Josh Green highlighted the state’s ongoing focus on climate change and affordability, expressing enthusiasm for the role of clean energy in enhancing the quality of life for Hawai‘i’s residents. HGIA executive director Gwen Yamamoto-Lau noted the alignment of the Solar for All award with Hawai‘i’s ambitions for affordability and clean energy. The funding is expected to assist thousands of low-income families by reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, improving resilience, and stabilizing the grid over the next five years.


HGIA to Receive Funds to Finance Equitable Clean Water Infrastructure 

The Coalition for Green Capital, PRE Collective, and Quantified Ventures announced their selection of six green banks from across the United States, including the Hawai‘i Green Infrastructure Authority (HGIA), to receive grants plus technical assistance to build a pipeline of equitable clean water infrastructure projects that directly benefit disadvantaged communities. HGIA is planning to work with disadvantaged communities across the state to address water quality issues stemming from cesspools and explore energy-neutral on-site water reuse facilities, on-farm water efficiency measures, and water conservation measures that reduce residents’ energy burden. HGIA Executive Director Gwen Yamamoto-Lau expressed, “We are thrilled to be included in this cohort and look forward to collaborating in the design and implementation of financing programs that meet the needs of disadvantaged communities in Hawai‘i and across the nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.”  


State Purchase of Former Maui Hotel Provides Short-Term Housing for Fire Survivors, Long-Term Housing for Teachers and Other Workforce Residents 

The Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) recently announced that it closed on the purchase of the former Maui Sun Hotel in Kihei from Haggai International Institute for Advanced Leadership Training. The newly renamed Hale ‘O Lā‘ie, with 175 guest rooms, will initially be operated as temporary housing for certain individuals and families displaced by last August’s wildfires. HHFDC has contracted with Paramount Hotels LLC, the owner and manager of the nearby Maui Coast Hotel, to provide property management and related services for the project. In accordance with the legislative appropriation that funded the acquisition, Hale ‘O Lā‘ie will be repurposed as a teacher and workforce rental housing project with public prekindergarten classroom space once the wildfire-related use has ended. A phased opening of the property for Maui fire survivors is planned to begin by early May.


Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Launches Mālama Hawai‘i Dashboard

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) partnered with Kanu Hawai‘i to connect visitors with volunteer opportunities and nonprofits throughout the state. Travelers planning their trips to the Hawaiian Islands can access the Mālama Hawai‘i Volunteer Dashboard at Volunteer opportunities to support Maui in its recovery are also featured on the website. Throughout April, HTA is supporting Volunteer Month, organized by Kanu Hawai'i, as part of HTA’s 2024 Community Enrichment Program. Organizations interested in participating should email for more information.  


Priority-Listed Offerors Selected for New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District

The New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) recently announced that it has selected two (2) priority-listed offerors that will be considered to develop and operate the new Aloha Stadium and surrounding entertainment district as one integrated public-private-partnership (P3) project. The selection of the priority-listed offerors follows the strong response NASED received after it issued its Request for Proposals (RFP) in December 2023. The NASED project has moved into the proposals phase, open only to priority-listed offerors, to conclude this phase with one preferred offeror. The proposal deadline will be in the summer of 2024, with the selection of a preferred offeror targeted for fall 2024 and the final execution of an agreement targeted for summer 2025. Businesses or organizations that would like to register their interest with the priority-listed offerors may submit their contact information on the “Doing Business with NASED” page on the project website:


New Military and Community Relations Office  

DBEDT has established a Military and Community Relations Office focused on effective collaboration and transparency between the State of Hawai‘i, county governments, the community and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). This was made possible through a $3.2 million dollar grant from the DoD Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation, awarded to DBEDT in October 2023. Following a DBEDT search and interview process, Laurie Moore and John Greene were selected as the executive director and deputy director, respectively. Moore and Greene began serving in their new positions on April 1, 2024.


Expediting the Build-out of State Lands in East Kapolei with Infrastructure Planning

With funds appropriated by Act 164, SLH 2023, the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development and Hawai‘i Community Development Authority are working with Jacobs Engineering to prepare an Infrastructure Implementation Master Plan for the East Kapolei Area.  This area was designated as a State Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Priority Area in the State Strategic Plan for Transit-Oriented Development issued by the Hawaiʻi Interagency Council for Transit-Oriented Development in 2017.  The Project will identify public and private infrastructure improvements required to support TOD, including the provision of affordable housing on state lands and the development of state facilities on lands near the Skyline Rail East Kapolei area stations: Kualakaʻi (East Kapolei), Keoneʻae (University of Hawaiʻi - West Oʻahu), and Honouliuli (Ho‘opili).  

The Project will prioritize region- or area-serving public backbone infrastructure needed to serve the full build-out of the project area and the state-owned parcels, in particular.  Recommendations will address problems associated with the timely delivery of TOD-related infrastructure created by the high costs of improvements and agency capacity to undertake infrastructure projects.  The documents produced should be sufficient for State of Hawai‘i and City and County of Honolulu agencies to proceed with the procurement of vendors for infrastructure design and construction and the preparation of an Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement, as needed.  The Notice to Proceed was issued in late March and the Project should be completed in approximately 24 months.

State Transit-Oriented Development Program

For more on DBEDT and its divisions and attached agencies, please visit

Below are links to newsletters from DBEDT’s attached agencies and related programs:

Additional Info

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Source : The State Dept. of Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)

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