By Sherry Menor-McNamara, President & CEO

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii has been and continues to be in support of the Thirty Meter Telescope. We view this important project as a catalyst that will help to grow and diversify our economy, provide unique educational opportunities, contribute to science on an unparalleled level, as well as elevate Hawaii’s presence on a global scale. Hawaii competed against many other countries for this scientific endeavor, and that has not gone unnoticed.

From a legal and regulatory process standpoint, the rule of law must stand. Undermining the integrity of our judicial system undermines our democracy. TMT followed a lengthy seven-year public and agency review. This regulatory process included many community outreach efforts that have recognized the cultural significance of Mauna Kea. TMT is committed and understands the need to be a good citizen of Hawaii and will certainly be held accountable if it does otherwise.

From a business and economic standpoint, certainty and fairness are key to doing business in Hawaii. Approved projects such as TMT that have gone through the proper process should not be stopped after the fact. Doing so compromises the integrity of the process and any efforts to improve the business climate for our communities.

This project will stimulate and diversify Hawaii island’s economy. Our state needs the investment and tax dollars created by TMT to fund the growing needs of our community. The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the nation. This initiative will create the types of high-quality, high-paying jobs that will enable our families and our children to build a future in the islands.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s polling shows overwhelming support for TMT, so we know the community stands behind progress. With that said, we cannot and should not ignore the past. Rather, we should honor and inspire ourselves to do better moving forward. This is a pivotal moment in our state, nation and world — a time when partisanship, prejudice and violence are becoming everyday occurrences. As an island state with diverse and close-knit communities, we cannot afford to be divided; we need to be united in our shared beliefs of respect, tolerance, inclusion and following the rule of law.

Although stakeholders may disagree on this issue, we cannot let it divide our communities. We need to show the rest of the world that we can agree to disagree, move forward and collectively work on issues to benefit the people of our state. Hawaii is too small and important a place to be so fractured.