Hawai‘i Community College is proud to educate the workforce of Hawai‘i Island, training the future nurses, teachers, auto mechanics, carpenters and many others who make our communities vibrant, healthy and strong.

To continue this important work and fulfill our mission, we are advocating at the state legislature this year to support capital improvements and initiatives that will move Hawai‘i CC and the community forward.

What follows is a summary of our 2023 Legislative Priorities:

Early Childhood Education – As we saw during the pandemic, when workers can’t find childcare it makes it difficult for them to work, and that leaves businesses struggling to find employees. Or, as we say, “no childcare workforce = no workforce.” The good news is the state legislature and executive branch have been addressing this, and Hawai‘i CC is in a good position to help with its Early Childhood Education associate degree program. The legislature enacted Act 46 to “significantly increase” access to childcare and early learning programs and also appropriated $200 million for pre-k facilities expansion through HB2000. To meet the requirements of Act 46, Hawaii County will need 1,636 more Early Educators by 2032. Hawai‘i CC is seeking to support that workforce need by adding to our existing Early Childhood Education program in Hilo and expanding our program to the Hawai‘i CC – Palamanui campus in Kona and the Ko Education Center in Honoka’a. A healthy childcare and pre-k sector is essential to the health of our keiki, families, businesses and communities.

Agriculture and Forest TEAM Program Expansion – With community interest in sustainable agriculture strong — and state policy calling for the doubling of local food production by 2030 — Hawai‘i CC seeks to expand its Agriculture and Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management (Forest TEAM) programs beyond our existing one-acre site in Panaewa.

Hawai‘i CC is collaborating with UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) to use 17 acres at the Waiākea Research Station in Hilo. This would allow for improvement of existing programs and the addition of subjects like small animal husbandry and sawmill training to support the local forest industry. To accomplish this we need capital improvement funds to support infrastructure and facilities.

Our Agriculture program enrollment increased during the pandemic as residents recognized the fragility of the supply chain and the value of food security. Now is the time to invest in agriculture and advance Hawai‘i’s food security goals.  

Manono Campus Redevelopment – To fulfill its mission now and in the future, Hawai‘i CC needs to redevelop the Manono Campus in Hilo, which is its main campus. The Manono Campus structures were developed in the 1950s and 1960s and are sorely inadequate. The continued use of the substandard facilities impacts the effectiveness and quality of educational programs and creates increasing challenges in meeting student recruitment, campus pride, and retention goals.

We are seeking funding for planning and design – the first important investment in the future of Hawai‘i Community College.

Pell for Incarcerated Individuals: Program Specialist Position – The federal government recently reinstated Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals, which opens new opportunities to serve a population of students who can benefit greatly from higher education. Prison education is proven to reduce recidivism rates and is associated with higher employment rates, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Hawai‘i Community College seeks funding to hire a Program Specialist to implement a program offering associate degrees and certificates to inmates at Kulani Correctional Center and through collaborations with the Hale Nani reintegration program.

Kō Education Center Positions Reinstated – The Kō Education Center (formerly NHERC) was established to be a model rural-serving education site that meets the educational and workforce needs of the Hāmākua community. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and SB126 was enacted, five vacant positions were swept. As a result, personnel capacity at KōEC has been at 44% for over two years and the campus does not have adequate staff to reopen for the public use of its meeting rooms or to serve the needs of the community in general. Hawai‘i CC seeks to reinstate the five positions that were swept.

Mahalo for supporting Hawai‘i Community College.


Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas