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Thursday, December 7, 2000

Adtech hopes
to anchor Kakaako
technology park

The fast-growing Hawaii
company is seen as a
catalyst for bringing other
businesses to the area

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Just as major department stores like Sears and Liberty House anchor Hawaii shopping centers, one of the state's brightest stars in the high-tech world may soon be an anchor for redevelopment in Kakaako.

Adtech Inc. Adtech Inc., which creates hardware and software for network equipment manufacturers and service providers, is considering about four acres of state land -- on the Diamond Head end of Fort Armstrong between Ala Moana and Kakaako Waterfront Park -- as headquarters for its rapidly expanding operations.

Adtech President Tareq Hoque gave a presentation yesterday to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees planning in the Kakaako region.

The company is among the fastest-growing high-tech entities in Hawaii with expected sales of $150 million this year, doubling last year's sales, Hoque said. Adtech has about 300 employees, all but about 20 in Hawaii, and hopes to double that number in the next year or so, he said.

"We probably hire someone new every day, or every other day," Hoque said. "We're on a massive recruiting effort right now trying to bring in as many highly qualified, world class engineering and technical people that we can find."

Some 80 percent of the engineers and other specialists, however, have Hawaii ties, he said.

Adtech was founded by three University of Hawaii professors in 1967. It was bought out by London-based Bowthorpe Plc, now Spirent Plc, in 1997.

Adtech "has always been here in Hawaii and looks to stay here as well," Hoque said. The company now leases space out of several buildings in Kaimuki, but is looking for 200,000-to-250,000 square feet in Kakaako.

Jan Yokota, the HCDA's executive director, said the presence of Adtech and a proposed relocation of the University of Hawaii medical school could provide the anchors needed to bring other businesses into Kakaako.

"A company like Adtech is a very strong, established company and people want to locate near them," Yokota said. "And that's what we're looking for -- a company of that kind of strength and dominance in a high-tech market to be an anchor."

Hoque agreed. "Our vision is to create a high-tech center," he said.

"Adtech doesn't want to occupy this area all by ourselves. Instead, we'd look to incorporate other high-tech companies, as well as the university and really create a dynamic, professional research and development center."

Adtech is now expected to make a formal request to the board to negotiate a development agreement.

Kakaako and the state has the potential to be a high-tech mecca in the middle of the Pacific, he said.

"It's probably one of the best kept secrets in town but there are a significant number of decent-sized, high-tech companies doing fairly well in Hawaii," said Hoque, who is also vice chairman of the Hawaii Technology Trade Association.

"If we can get a real cooperative effort between our various activities, you could really jump start this thing as a truly world-class high-technology center."

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