Rebuilding Tech in 2010

Rebuilding Tech 2010This is the most coordinated tech movement I have seen to date. Jay Fidell (ThinkTech Hawaii) is on a mission to help establish the tech sector in Hawaii. He's brought together Pacific New Media's, Susan Horowitz; Dan Leuck from Tech Hui; Mary Fastenau from Anthology Marketing Group and Bill Spencer from the Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association and put together quite an interesting set of panels. The program called Rebuilding in 2010: A Tech Prospective Approaching the 2010 Legislature provided a forum for discussing next steps in the post Act 221/199 world. As Act 221 sunsets in 2010, it is unlikely that another bill will make it through the legislature to provide the tech sector with tax credits. In this period of down revenues and furlough Friday's, the panel of legislators, Sen Colleen Hanabusa, Sen Carol Fukunaga and Rep. Angus McKelvey made it clears that when programs are being cut, nobody will be giving away money in the form of credits. During the Aspirations Panel, Ian Kitajima from Oceanit lead a rally cry for the tech sector to unify around the cause of Hawaii's survival in the world economy. The objective is bigger than one industry fighting against another in Hawaii. It's about Hawaii staying competitive against other tech centers in the US and the world. During the Methodology Panel, Darren Kimura (Sopogy) and Kelly King (Pacific Biodiesel) represented Hawaii's unique position in alternative energy. Hawaii has to focus on areas where it can excel. Solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and wave are all readily available here. Besides tax credits, what can the legislature do for these industries? Reduce the permitting overhead! Bill Spencer from Hawaii Oceanic Technologies also participated on the panel to bring attention to his two year struggle to get permits for a deep ocean aquaculture operation. He finally got it from the Board of Land and Natural Resources but it was a long and costly effort. Why can't the workers processing these permits feel the sense of urgency felt by the entrepreneur? Lack of top down leadership and message! 2010 looks to be shaping up to be an interesting year for tech. With the tech sector mobilizing, dynamic new industries forming and the ongoing search for new political leadership there will be a lot of potential for positive change. Well, that is at least the hope...

4 thoughts on “Rebuilding Tech in 2010”

  1. This is a good start. Hopefully members will find their way back from the committee table, roll up their sleeves, and start putting words to reality.

    I agree with Jay’s comments – this is not going to happen by itself. For ex-patriot Hawaiians living in the mainland, returning to Hawaii with their acquired tacit skills and knowledge in technology would be a great boost in getting access to the skills needed for a jump start.

    Alternative energy is a great industry, virtualization technology a great industry, and creating a haven for knowlege workers. But as always, talk is cheap.

    Maybe a start is to aggressively evangelize companies who are striking out on their own. Entrepreneurs are always grateful for the buzz, and the concept of industry clusters can eventually apply to Honolulu or other local areas. The more startup companies in a target industry, the easier it is to attract qualified workers either through local organic growth, or bringing back expats and others who can contribute to the cluster.

    Talk is a good start

  2. Burt – thanks for coming down and for writing up the Rebuilding in 2010 program.

    Yes, ThinkTech would like to see the industry come together and advance a cogent platform in the 2010 Legislature, and I agree that this program was a positive step in that direction.

    By popular demand, we contemplate another similar program before or early in the session to follow up on these discussions and the workgroup discussions organized by Sen. Carol Fukunaga and Rep. Angus McKelvey.

    You know, building a tech industry in Hawaii doesn’t happen by itself. Like it or not, we have to work on these things. We have to raise the capital, train the workforce and encourage the entrepreneurs to make their stake in Hawaii. It’s up to those who would benefit to get the word out, but the state needs this badly so it’s also up to the Legislature to take action.

    More to come, Burt. Thanks for covering and being part of the story. I look forward to seeing you again to compare notes as we get closer to the session. Why don’t you come down to our studio in the Davies Building, and we can interview you on your thoughts in the matter.



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