Friday, March 23, 2001

OHA logo

Caucasian seeks
OHA business loan

By Pat Omandam

It was sometime last October when Patrick Barrett of Moiliili called a Kailua man with the same name to apologize for any cases of mistaken identity experienced by the Windward resident.

Barrett, 53, last Oct. 3 filed a federal court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaiian Homes Commission, and had worried about any repercussions to his namesake as a result of it.

Fortunately, there have not been any either to himself or to the "nice Patrick Barrett in Kailua," Barrett said yesterday at an OHA small-business conference in Waikiki.

In one of his first interviews granted since he filed his civil rights lawsuit, the Caucasian, self-proclaimed child of the '60s referred all questions about his case to his attorney, John Goemans.

Still, Barrett's belief that OHA is a state agency was the reason he attended OHA's Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund small-business conference yesterday at the Radisson Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel.

Since OHA is a state agency, Barrett believes the event should have been opened to any Hawaii resident in getting business training and loans from OHA.

In a twist, Barrett is seeking a micro-loan of up to $10,000 from OHA to start a xerography business, a trade he learned years ago while working for a xerographer in Honolulu.

Barrett said he applied for the loan last September, but it remains pending before the agency. The OHA program provides loans of up to $75,000 to Hawaiians who want to start or expand a business but who are unable to secure conventional financing through traditional means.

The 30-year Hawaii resident said he was impressed by the conference, where he had hoped to pick up skills on how to run his small business.

"Where else can you get this much good training for $25?" said Barrett, who attended two of the eight workshops offered.

The federal program was started in 1989 and has a balance of about $12 million. It receives about $2 million annually in matching funds from OHA and the federal Administration for Native Americans. There are currently 157 loan recipients in the state who have received a total of $4.5 million.

OHA trustee Clayton Hee called the revolving loan fund the best business loan program in the country and a "shining example" of how OHA betters conditions of native Hawaiians while also helping to create more jobs and opportunities for all the people of Hawaii.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs

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