Under the Sun
Hawaii is a bad place to do some business
Hawaii is a bad place to do business and its notorious reputation will cause global moneyed interests finicky about their targets for investment to snub this banana republic, depriving the children of Hawaii the jobs they so badly need to live in prosperity in the aina of their birth.
Have I got that right?
While the text may not be the exact, it's close enough to the themes captains of industry and their political sympathizers use repeatedly in admonitions about the state's economic future.
It's Hawaii's version of the 9/11 specter the Bush administration constantly conjures to rationalize domestic spying and torture.
Yet there is evidence that a lot of businesses don't find Hawaii unwelcoming, just limited by its resources.
For some, the limits prove to be good reason to send investments this way with one real estate company buying up downtown towers, figuring it can get higher returns here as businesses compete for short office space.
Retailers certainly find the state attractive. Target, Whole Foods, chain restaurants and others have committed to the islands, undeterred by the tripled cost of opening stores here as compared to the continent, or by the higher operating expenses for labor, storage and shipping.
Hawaii's population boom has apparently reached the critical mass in retail perspective. Add in the constant flow of "new" customers -- the millions of tourists whose purse strings loosen while on vacation -- and you have retailers generally making twice as much in isle stores as they do elsewhere.
Walt Disney Co. hasn't turned up its nose at the state. Development of a hotel and time-share resort at Ko Olina makes perfect sense; where else would a fantasy-based enterprise expand but on an ostensible fantasy island?
Besides retail, tourism and military investment, I'm not sure what the state's corporate and political leaders are hoping for.
Hawaii doesn't have resources that can be harvested for big profit. There are no seams of coal running through the Koolaus, readily removed by blasting off mountaintops, like in the Appalachians, no sprawling acres of forests, like in the U.S. Northwest, to be cut for floors, furniture and paper, no mineral deposits to be mined, no gold or silver or diamonds.
Resources here are substances of value that can't be separated from their places. Hawaii's treasure is its environment.
Though the surrounding seas can be exploited for wild fish, which are fast dwindling in numbers, for aquaculture or for energy production, the land for food and biofuels and sunlight and trade winds for electrical power, whatever is used has to be considered with care.
If exercising care requires restrictions, laws and regulations that some businesses don't like, well, that's the way it is. Maybe they should pick another place.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org