Thursday, June 7, 2001

Brain drain to
the land of rain

Recent Hawaii ex-pat Kimberly Mikami Svetin has named her new Issaquah, Wash.-based public relations and marketing company Ocean Blue Communications Inc.

"One thing I told my husband was that no matter where we live, I need to be close to water, it's my sense of place," she said. Her home is near Lake Sammamish, and 15 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, although she said it looks different from her side of the puddle.

She left her job as communications director at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua when her husband, Todd, a job superintendent with Kiewit Pacific, was transferred to the Seattle area to supervise a $40 million construc- tion project.

While Hawaii's construction industry has good and bad years, Svetin said the industry in Washington is seasonal. "There's a window of opportunity from mid-April to mid-October." Outside that, she said, "crews shut down and construction workers go on unemployment because the weather gets so bad."

In keeping with the water theme, her firm's first client is Salish Lodge & Spa, next to the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls. The faraway lodge has local ties -- Director of Sales and Marketing Suzanne Erler and Director of Food and Beverage Paul Wolman. Erler, from Aiea, is the former public relations and advertising director of the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel; and Wolman "opened" the Hawaii Prince Hotel as a food and beverage executive.

Svetin is cultivating her agency with help from the U.S. Small Business Administration, on the advice of her dad, David Mikami, president of Molokai Drugs Inc. -- and the island's only pharmacist. Svetin recommends the SBA's free and low-cost service for all prospective entrepreneurs.

She said while she misses home, there are benefits to her location. No state income tax, $3.69 for two gallons of milk, $1.70 a gallon for premium gas, and roadside produce stands offering "two pounds of cherries for less than $4."

Brain Drain Archive

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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