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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, October 3, 2003


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Isle gas prices reach record high

Honolulu gasoline prices hit another record yesterday, rising to an average $2.054 a gallon for regular, up about 2 cents from a month ago, while national gas prices have fallen 9 percent, according to a survey by AAA.

Hawaii's gas prices are by far the highest in the nation, followed by California, Alaska and New York. The national average price was $1.575 a gallon yesterday, down 16 cents from $1.732 a month ago.

On Oahu, even the lowest gas prices are much higher than on the mainland. At Costco's price-cutting pumps in Waipio, regular gas sold for $1.899 a gallon yesterday.

The average price in Wailuku, Maui, was $2.379 a gallon yesterday, up a penny from a month ago. On the Big Island, the Hilo average yesterday was $2.172, down 2 cents from a month ago.

Continental adds 7 holiday flights

Continental Airlines will add seven mainland-Hawaii direct flights to meet what it says is increased demand for travel to Hawaii for the Christmas-New Year's holiday season. There will be four new Honolulu-Houston flights -- on Dec. 20, 27 and 28 and Jan. 3 -- and three new Honolulu-Newark, N.J., round trips -- starting from Honolulu on Dec. 17, 27 and 28.

The flights are in addition to Continental's regular service of two flights a day between Honolulu and Houston, one-a-day Maui-Houston, one-a-day Honolulu-Newark and one-a-day Honolulu-Los Angeles.

The airline's Newark hub is a gateway to New York City and the Houston hub feeds to many parts of the country. The additional flights will use a Boeing 767-400 aircraft, with 200 seats in economy and 35 in what Continental calls its BusinessFirst class; and another 767-400 configured with 236 economy seats and 20 in BusinessFirst.

Continental also flies a daily service from Honolulu to Guam and the Marshall Islands.

99-cent store in Maui expands

Maui's first 99-cent store, offering a wide variety of goods for less than a dollar, has expanded in the Azeka Shopping Center in Kihei, near Ace Hardware.

Called "The 99 Cent Paradise," the store started two months ago with about 1,000 square feet but has now expanded to 3,200 square feet, according to MW Group, owners of the center.

Owner and operator Rachel Baranik said Kihei's rapid population growth and the need for quality discount merchandise created a strong market, and 75 to 80 percent of the store's customers are local residents.

MW Group recently invested $2 million to improve the shopping center.

High-tech workshop to help entrepreneurs

The state High Technology Development Corp.'s first FastTrac Technology entrepreneur workshop will take place from Oct. 13 to Dec. 8.

FastTrac Technology is part of a national tech-focused program that will provide business development workshops for entrepreneurs, and Hawaii will be one of a few pilot sites before a nationwide launch in the spring.

Scheduled presenters include: Susan Scott, tech consultant and former chief executive of Get2Hawaii Inc.; Greg Kim, Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel; Leighton Chong, Ostrager Chong & Flaherty; Ed Young, City Bank; Rob Robinson, executive director of the University of Hawaii Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship & E-Business, and head of the UH Angels; James Hasselman, PricewaterhouseCoopers;

and John Chock, head of the state Hawaii Strategic Development Corp.

Phil Bossert, executive director of HTDC, will serve as a facilitator for the workshops. The cost to attend is $400. For more information, call 539-3601.

Citigroup's Weill sells stake for $264 million

NEW YORK >> Citigroup Inc. Chairman Sanford I. Weill sold a quarter of the shares he holds in the bank yesterday for nearly $264 million, the bank said.

Citigroup purchased the 5.6 million common shares, in an exception to its policy against purchasing shares from employees, the announcement said.

The sale came a day after Weill relinquished the title of chief executive to his designated successor, Charles O. Prince. Although he's no longer CEO, Weill will remain chairman of the board of Citigroup until the 2006 annual meeting. He is 70.

St. Francis gets accreditation

St. Francis Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center-West have received accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The commission conducts on-site surveys at health care facilities to determine if hospitals are complying with nationally recognized health care standards. The review, which is voluntary, examines a number of different areas such as patient safety, emergency preparedness, access to care, staff qualifications and education.

In other news ...

Federal regulators approved a potential $50 million settlement with Reliant Resources Inc. over allegations the energy trader and producer manipulated western electricity markets in 2000 by withholding power.


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[Hawaii Inc.]

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NEW JOBS

>> Hawaii HomeOwnership Center has appointed Kendall J. Hirai as executive director. He was previously executive director of Downey YMCA in Downey, Calif., for nearly two years. He also served as executive director of Central YMCA on Oahu for more than six years. Other Hawaii HomeOwnership appointments include Michael Gallagher as education coordinator and Lehua Rose Malott as counselor. Gallagher was formerly a Hawaii Community Loan Fund loan officer. Malott was a Parents and Children Together administrative assistant and a part-time Waimanalo Community Development Corporation homebuyer educator.

>> Sukil Suh, formerly of StarPR, has been hired by Becker Communications as an account executive. He has been in the public relations business for more than 10 years and has managed the communications needs of the state Department of Human Services, the Honolulu Zoological Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Honolulu Inc. and Blood Bank of Hawaii.

PROMOTIONS

>> Kapalua Resort has named Rob Shelton to general manager of The Kapalua Villas. He will oversee daily operations of the villa rental program and continue his duties as The Kapalua Club general manager. He has spent 23 years at the company and held a variety of positions, including room service manager, cost controller and Kapalua Bay Hotel & Ocean Villas director of purchasing and retail operations.

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