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Hirono hosts a roundtable with the U.S. Trade Representative and Hawaii Small Business Owners: Maui Now

Hirono hosts a roundtable with the U.S. Trade Representative and Hawaii Small Business Owners: Maui Now

February 25, 2024 at 10:00 AM GMT

US Senator Mazie K. Hawaii's Hirono and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai have a roundtable discussion with Hawaii's resource partners and local business owners.

The business owners discussed the challenges they have faced in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and inquired about opportunities to expand their access to foreign markets through federally funded programs, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration's State Trade Expansion Program.

“Millions of jobs in our country can be attributed to small businesses, which is why it is so important that our trade policies support the efforts of domestically owned companies to export their products to consumers around the world,” said Hirono, an economist. Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “I appreciate hearing from these business owners and other members of our community about the importance of growing exports and expanding small local businesses beyond our islands. I will continue to work with Ambassador Tai and other state, local and federal partners to expand opportunities for local businesses in Hawaii.”

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“I am so inspired by the creativity and resilience of the small business owners described by the Senator. Hirono and I had the opportunity to meet in Honolulu,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Their passion and resourcefulness demonstrate why small businesses are the lifeblood of every community. This roundtable provided an invaluable opportunity to learn from the insights business owners shared from their experiences starting out, navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic years, and how they seek to incorporate Hawaiian culture into their products – important lessons for economic implementation. and trade policies that build our economy from the middle out and from the bottom up.

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Sin. Hirono and Ambassador Tai heard from each company about their experience working in a state as diverse as Hawaii and the importance of e-commerce sales for growing businesses. The roundtable included representatives from the YWCA of Oahu; Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and INNOVATE Hawaiʻi Foundation.

Roundtable participants included:

  • Colleen McAlone is director of the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership at the YWCA of Oahu
  • Noriko Namiki, CEO of the YWCA of Oahu
  • Joe Burns, Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network Director
  • Wayne Layoghan, project engineer at Hawaii Technology Development Corporation
  • Mary Dell is an economic development specialist in the Hawaii District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Jimmy Lum, DBEDT Hawaii Business Development Program Director
  • Alice Kim, founder of Hanalei Beauty Co. LLC
  • Byron Guo, co-founder of Tea Chest Hawaiʻi
  • Kia Peters, owner and illustrator of Kaku Group
  • James Chan, owner and general manager of Hawaiian Ship Company
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