A Japanese consortium
is planning a cancer
research center in Kakaako,
the governor says
The racial diversity of Hawaii's population makes the state a great tourist attraction but can also bring in investment as well, Gov. Linda Lingle told a meeting of ethnic affiliates of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii yesterday.
High on her list is a plan by a Japanese government cancer research center, working with a consortium of Japan's big pharmaceutical companies, to invest up to $750 million in a disease research center in Kakaako.
Japanese researchers believe Hawaii is the best place for its research, an offshoot of human genome work, because of its population diversity, Lingle said.
"They focus on ethnic differences in DNA,", Lingle told the Associated Chambers and Business Organizations Council. Present were representatives of more than 20 ethnic and local Chamber of Commerce subgroups.
While figures of $100 million and more have been mentioned in previous discussions of the research center, Lingle's comments indicated a much bigger investment.
Lingle said the research center was the brainchild of Edwin Cadman, dean of the medical school. The joint venture of the Cancer Research Institute of Japan and the pharmaceutical companies will start with offices in the former Gold Bond Building at 677 Ala Moana and will later move into its own building adjacent to the new $300 million medical school, she said.
Executives of the University of Hawaii and its John A. Burns School of Medicine could not be reached for comment late yesterday.
Asked about Hawaii's interisland airlines, fares that seem high and the difficulty of getting through airports, Lingle said she has asked federal authorities to think about subsidies for Hawaii's interisland airlines.
The idea was greeted with disbelief initially, she said, but she has been making the case that airlines are the state's transportation system and the federal government routinely produces billions of dollars for road systems that provide the intrastate transportation elsewhere.
Lingle also said she has hopes for an interisland ferry system. One such system, the latest of several ferry ideas, is being pursued by a private business, Hawaii Superferry.
The company contemplates daily service from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai to start with, expanding later to the Big Island.
Lingle said a ferry ride would take longer than a plane trip but would cost less. Some of the extra travel time would simply replace time used in getting to and through airports.
John Garibaldi, an executive of Hawaii Superferry who has held executive positions at Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, said the company is talking to shipbuilders and working on the ferry's feasibility. He said his group plans to meet with Lingle next month.
Lingle, who was asked to rate her performance in her nearly eight months as governor, said she would give herself an "A" for her fiscal restraint, but she acknowledged that many people would not agree because cutting spending is not popular.
Lingle also said her administration is doing everything it can to lift the burdens that government regulations place on business.
"The most important thing we have done is change the regulatory process," she said. She cited moving more licensing and registration functions online so businesses and professionals no longer have to visit a number of state offices to get licenses and permits.
She said she was able to activate the Small Business Regulatory Review Council, which had existed for six years with the task of evaluating the direct effect on businesses of new state rules and regulations.