Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Mayor Jeremy Harris presents the city's new "business friendly" Web site in a PowerPoint presentation to members of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Hawaii Chapter, at the Pacific Club.

City targets
mainland businesses

A redesigned Web site offers
real estate and demographic info
to firms looking to relocate

By Tim Ruel

Mayor Jeremy Harris today announced the creation of an economic development Web site that the city hopes will attract more outside businesses to open offices in Honolulu.

The site,, provides several services, including maps of available commercial and industrial real estate properties. The site also provides demographic data on the areas that surround the properties, such as the spending habits of nearby consumers and the number of potential employees.

The city contracted part of the project out to GIS Planning Inc., a Berkeley, Calif.-based company that has developed similar Web sites for cities including Sioux City, Iowa; Oklahoma City and Stockton, Calif. The city put out a request for proposals to program the Web site database, and GIS submitted the lowest bid, $30,000, said Courtney Harrington, director of the city's Department of Information Technology. Programming took about three months, he said.

Other partners in the project are the Honolulu Board of Realtors, which provided computer servers; and Enterprise Honolulu, which provided the demographic reports.

The city's main Web site already gets 6 million hits a month, and a recent survey indicates 84 percent of businesses looking for new locations use the Internet in the process, Harris said. He unveiled the Web site this morning at a breakfast presented by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties at the Pacific Club.

Harris noted that a Web site alone is not enough to attract companies to Hawaii. The state has a have reputation for being unfriendly to business, and needs to make substantial changes, he said.

Harris also said he was irritated that the City Council recently slashed the city's $2 million economic development budget by 60 percent as part of cutbacks. The result of all the cuts, Harris said, was that the Council was able to remove just $5 million from a $1.12 billion operating budget, a meager savings. "They were annoying and perhaps not well thought out," Harris said of the cuts.

Budget Committee Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi and other Council members have accused Harris of creating future debt and balancing the budget by raiding $60 million from the dedicated sewer fund and using other one-time funds.

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