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President’s Message – November 2020

By: Toby Taniguchi, President

Aloha my fellow members,

Last month we talked about changes, some of which have already arrived, and others soon to follow – changes that we all have a hand in, and a responsibility towards. This month, I’d like to look at the civic responsibilities we, as business owners have in addition to voting. Now is a time our communities need us more than ever – between the increasing cases of COVID-19, current social upheaval, and the difficulties of managing business with significantly fewer customers, our communities still need us, just as much as we need them.

Voting is certainly our most important civic duty, and it’s likely big changes on the local, state, and national levels are on the horizon as election day draws near. Though there are no current County Charter amendments that have a direct effect on the business community, there are plenty of ways that your ballot choices can have consequences for both your business and personal life. Choose wisely, and above all, don’t forget to mail or drop your ballots before the Election Day deadlines.

Election season is also a really good time to reflect on our individual communities and how our businesses serve those communities. While we may pore over different analytics, calculating our ROI and financial results using various tools, we should also be looking at ways that our businesses can have a positive impact on our communities. Making substantial contributions to the health and safety of the places where we do business is almost always good for business – communities are stronger, safer, and feel cared for, giving them a vested interest in supporting your business. This leads to valuable word of mouth marketing, greater interest from quality employment candidates, and increased exposure in the media, among other things. Doing good creates ripples of good in the community, so help a local team out with their uniform fundraiser, fill that donation request for a silent auction that’s been sitting in your inbox, or make a donation of goods to a food pantry, soup kitchen, or food bank.  Acts can be big or small, but just like voting, these acts can have consequences for both your business and personal life.

Another important way to keep communities strong is to support our local small businesses and enterprise members. These businesses keep 67 cents from every dollar spent in our community, and we need that more than ever right now. Let’s keep the doors open for the 65% of restaurants that are projected to close within the next six months and the lights on at all our retail, services, manufacturers, attractions and neighborhood businesses.  For a very easy way to shop local and save money via your HICC membership, check out the new and improved HICC website and its searchable directory to find member businesses. Shop in store, online, pick up curbside, or get it delivered – just be sure to shop local!

Finally, I ask you take a moment to be thankful that we get to do business in such a wonderful and unique place as we work towards a full recovery. Where else in the world can you find 10 different climate zones to grow a wide array of foods and other agricultures? Where paniolos work their ranches just a mere 30 miles from some of the world’s finest resorts? Where you have such a strong work force of generations of educated and dedicated `ohana working side-by-side? Such an ideal environment for innovation and business start-ups.  “Small world, Big Island” adage best describes that small-town feel spread across 4,028 square miles that help to make this place so special.

Mahalo, Stay Safe and Vote!

Statistic Sources: American Express Small Business & Hawaii Restaurant Association