Business Briefs


POSTED: Friday, March 05, 2010

State jobless rate below 7% in 2009

Hawaii's average jobless rate last year was 6.8 percent, an increase from 2008 but still well below the national average.

In 2008 Hawaii had a jobless rate of 4 percent. The national average of unemployment last year was 9.3 percent, a 3.5 percentage-point jump from the prior year.

All 50 states posted significant unemployment rate increases in 2009. Michigan and Nevada had the largest rates, with 13.6 and 11.8 percent, respectively. North Dakota had the lowest at 4.3 percent, which was still a 1.1 percentage-point increase from the previous year.

Tourism agency lauds new travel law

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is praising enactment of the Travel Promotion Act.

The new federal law was signed by President Barack Obama yesterday.

It sets up a nonprofit corporation for travel promotion tasked with assuring potential visitors that they will be welcomed, helping them with paperwork and informing them of the many places of interest in the United States outside the usual tourist destinations. Costs for the program would be divided equally between the government and private industry, with Washington contributing up to $100 million a year.

HTA President Mike McCartney says the act will contribute to his agency's efforts to attract international visitors to Hawaii and generate significant new consumer spending.

Prius tops Japan sales despite recall

TOKYO » Toyota's Prius remains the top-selling car in Japan despite the automaker's global recall woes that included braking problems with the hit hybrid.

More than 27,000 of the gas-electric hybrids were sold in February, making the Prius the best-selling model for the 10th straight month, according to Japan Automobile Dealers Association figures released yesterday.

The continued popularity of the Prius comes despite Toyota's recall debacle affecting 8.5 million vehicles around the world, including the third-generation Prius in Japan, recalled for a glitch in anti-lock braking. But the safety concerns and bad publicity have hurt sales of Toyota models in the U.S.—the automaker's biggest market.

Helicopter tour firm goes solar

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, an air-tour company, has installed a solar power system at two of its buildings at the Maui Heliport. The array, installed on the rooftops, consists of 432 panels that handles about 90 percent of Blue Hawaiian's electricity on Maui. The photovoltaic system was designed and engineered with Haleakala Solar, a solar systems company started in 1977.

California flights added for Hawaii

Continental Airlines is adding more Southern California flights for Hawaii.

Starting Sunday, there will be a new daily flight between Los Angeles International Airport and Maui's Kahului Airport. The airline also begins a second daily flight between Los Angeles and Honolulu on Sunday. Continental also is adding a flight between Orange County's John Wayne Airport and Maui that will operate four times a week. Continental said it plans to increase that service to daily during the summer.

Mortgage rates fall below 5%

McLEAN, Va. » Mortgages rates have dipped below 5 percent again, four weeks before a government program that is helping keep rates low is scheduled to run out.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.97 percent this week, down from 5.05 percent a week earlier, mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said yesterday.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.33 percent, down from 4.4 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.27 percent from 4.15 percent.

Also, data showed yesterday that pending sales of existing homes dropped 7.6 percent in January from December.



The Queen's Health Systems has named Hunter Praywell as vice president and chief information officer. He was previously responsible for the planning, delivery and support of information technology at Kamehameha Schools and held leadership positions at Hawaiian Airlines and KPMG LLP.


The Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs has announced the following recipients of its seventh annual Ho'oulu Leadership Awards: Virginia M. Pressler, business; Mayor Harry Kim, government; Russell K. Okata, labor; Henry B. Clark, community; Eric E. Chock and Darrell H.Y. Lum, culture and the arts; and Sen. Nadao Yoshinaga, lifetime achievement.


The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has appointed the following to its board of directors:

» Adam C. Wong is founder of ACW Ventures. His experience includes serving as vice president and equity partner in a local hotel development firm and as area developer for Great Harvest Bread in Honolulu.

» Theresia Cancio McMurdo is vice president of public affairs with Kapolei Property Development. She was previously a public relations manager for James Campbell Co.


Grace Pacific Corp. has pledged $100,000 to Malama Learning Center. The funds will be used for planning, design and construction of a facility.