Why is it so hard for small businesses to make money in Hawaii?
The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii wants answers to that question, and it has opened a new business barriers web portal to hear from business owners and entrepreneurs.
“Various surveys and polls clearly shows that Hawaiʻi is one of the worst places to do business,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, the chamber’s president and CEO.
“Sometimes we’re number 50, sometimes we’re 49, go back to 50 or 48 — whatever it is. But it clearly shows that we are very difficult, or a difficult place to do business.”
Menor-McNamara acknowledged that many businesses suffered due to the pandemic and are still recovering.
There are also new challenges — inflation, supply chain issues and workforce shortages. But one refrain from the before times remains the same for local businesses.
“One of the areas that we continue to hear even pre-pandemic is the regulatory barriers. But what are those regulatory barriers?” Menor-McNamara said.
“So that’s why the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi decided to embark on this initiative, to be more proactive, and invite businesses to identify and describe in detail what those barriers are. Unless we know, we can’t do any changes.”
The goal is to crowdsource the problems and barriers to business, and then propose policies in the next legislative session.
Menor-McNamara said it is an opportunity to create a better business climate so Hawaiʻi can act as a springboard and connect businesses across the continental U.S. and the Asia Pacific region.
“So let’s start now and identify what those challenges are, and together fix those challenges,” Menor-McNamara said.
“Start turning the ship and making Hawaiʻi a good place to do business. And that way, businesses can stay open and continue to grow and continue to create positions, and high-paying positions.”
Hawai businesses can submit feedback at cochawaii.org.