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U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono and Sherry Menor-McNamara from the Chamber of Commerce joined Good Morning Hawaii to talk about Hawaii on the Hill — an event where local products are taken to Washington, D.C.

The two politicians sat down for a Q&A.

Q: We’re now approaching the 6th annual Hawaii on the Hill. What keeps Hawaii companies coming back? 

A: Many of our inaugural partners, including INNOVATE Hawaii, The Orchid Lei Company, Hawaiian Chip Company, Koloa Rum are still with us.

This year, we have more than 40 Hawaii companies participating, including Kauai Kookie, Diamond Bakery, and Hawaiian Chip Company. Our participants realize the importance of engaging with their legislators and feel that these relationships we’ve helped to create are worthwhile. Hawaii on the Hill also widens their market base and has resulted in new distribution points for many of our participants. In addition to manufacturers, other key Hawaii industries such as Hawaii Gas and agricultural interests will be represented. 

Q: Senator Hirono, what’s the reception on Capitol Hill like for this event? Why is it so popular?

A: It helps my colleagues realize what makes Hawaii so special, as well as the unique challenges that businesses in Hawaii face. Many of them have gotten to know Hawaii on the Hill participants, which helps put a face to the policies we enact. One of the challenges that we often face is explaining why a policy that would work in other parts of the country will not work in Hawaii. Hawaii on the Hill helps to bridge that gap. And of course, everyone gets an orchid lei and samples some of our most iconic products, so all 2,000+ participants get a taste of the Aloha Spirit.

Q: For both Sherry and the Senator, what do you hope that attendees in Washington, D.C. will take away from Hawaii on the Hill?

A: Half the battle is showing up, so my colleagues and their staff members will know that Hawaii is in the house. We will continue to show up and advocate for our state’s interests. It’s important for our business community to have a seat at the table and that’s what Hawaii on the Hill represents.