Makaha making a move
to improve with business center

The words "economic development" would not likely follow "Makaha" in a word association exercise.

That could change if the Makaha Economic Development Office is successful.

The Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center and the Economic Justice Program headed by the Rev. Kaleo Patterson and a hui of others will open the new economic development office at Makaha Marketplace (in the old Cornet store) at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

It is no secret that Makaha is among Hawaii's most economically disadvantaged communities. Patterson believes Makaha's "incredible cultural assets and resources" include its people. "We felt that the people of Makaha should have the basic business opportunities that everyone else has," he said.

The center will use space donated by marketplace owner Lucky Cole.

"He believes in what we're doing for the Makaha community," said project coordinator Connie Tom. "He's giving us a 20-foot-by-30-foot office space to do our thing and reach out and help."

Support has also come from business, nonprofits and government agencies, including tenants at the Small Business Resource Center. The tenants include the Mayor's Office of Economic Development. Executive Director Manny Menendez is enthusiastic about the effort in Makaha, which came to his attention two years ago while talking with Cole.

"He talked about it as being maybe an incubator of sorts, where people could incubate their companies," Menendez said. "But to do that you need more than just space, you need mentoring and training. Without those components, usually you don't get the results you want."

Menendez's staff will travel to Makaha once a month to conduct seminars and workshops.

Clients who enter the center in Makaha will fill out an intake form and after an interview with Tom "we help them from the ground up, writing a business plan, teaching them computer skills and learning about what it takes to start a small business ... at no cost," she said.

There are big plans for the center to become a force in the community. It has been invited to partner with the Makaha Resort in a Taste of Makaha Ahupuaa still in the planning stages. The center is also looking at hosting a cultural and craft festival.

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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