A new initiative aims to grow the connections among local government, industry and the Department of Defense. One of the goals: diversifying Hawaii’s economy.
By one measure, only one other state in the nation does more business with the U.S. Department of Defense than Hawaii, and that’s Virginia–not necessarily in total dollars, but in terms of defense spending as a share of a state’s GDP.
In Hawaii, defense spending makes up nearly 8% of GDP while in Virginia, it’s nearly 11%. It’s a steady income, too.
Jason Chung, vice president of the Military Affairs Council of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii notes that defense spending held steady in Hawaii through both the 2008 Great Recession and the pandemic-related economic crash from curtailing tourism.
And the council’s goal is for more defense spending on a wider range of industries.
Funded with a DOD grant and guided by a study from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, the council is in the planning stages of what it calls the Hawaii Defense Economy Alliance.
This will combine government, military, various industries, academia, and other key stakeholders to expand contract opportunities for local businesses.
One hope is that opportunities in cybersecurity, information technology, data science and intelligence could create as many white-collar jobs in Hawaii as the shipyard does for blue-collar workers.