Mayor Michael Victorino announced that he has formed a task force to assist with creating an economic recovery plan as Maui County continues to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We need input from a broad variety of industries on where we should target federal funding support and what policy changes are needed to best respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19,” Mayor Victorino said. “We are doing a great job in keeping our case numbers and hospitalizations low during this pandemic, and that is thanks to the efforts of all our residents, health care workers and first responders.
“However, this pandemic has been devastating to our economy and we need to devote our energy toward helping our businesses and residents get back to work to support their families.”
The Economic Recovery Task Force is comprised of about 20 individuals, which met for the first time on Wednesday, July 8, to brainstorm ideas and prioritize focus areas.
Members include representatives from:
Airlines (Jeff Tarpey, United Airlines)
Arts and Entertainment (Art Vento, Maui Arts and Cultural Center)
Business/Technology (Leslie Wilkins, MEDB)
Commerce (Teri Gorman, Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce and Maui Grown Therapies)
Construction (Bill Kamai, Carpenters Union)
Culture (Ekolu Lindsey, Maui Cultural Lands)
Education (Brian Moto, UH-Maui College)
Finance (Dean Duque, First Hawaiian Bank; and Gary Fukuroka, Maui County Federal Credit Union)
Health (Wes Lo, Hale Makua; and Dr. Nicole Apoliona, Kula Hospital)
Housing (Sherri Dodson, Habitat for Humanity)
Real Estate (Van Waki, Shore To Shore Realty; and Ryan Churchill, Pacific Rim Land)
Restaurant (Peter Merriman, Merriman’s and Monkeypod Kitchen)
Retail (Kaponoai Molitau, Native Intelligence)
Tourism (Rod Antone, Maui Hotel & Lodging Association)
Wholesale (Nelson Okumura, VIP Foodservice; and Buddy James Nobriga, Maui Soda & Ice Works)
The Mayor’s Office has reached out to Agricultural industry leaders, who will also be joining the task force.
The task force is charged with making recommendations to Mayor Victorino on how to spend the approximately $67 million in CARES Act funds to provide the greatest support to local residents and businesses. The task force also will suggest changes to County laws or policies to further assist businesses in recovering from economic impacts brought by COVID-19.
Break-out sessions took place earlier this week to further discuss three focus areas:
Family well-being: to address issues such as child care, kupuna health, access to food, housing protection and broadband deployment.
Advocacy and access: to discuss job training, government support, safety and education.
Resources: to provide rent/mortgage relief, support to non-profits, job placement, and small business promotion and support.
The task force aims to make its short-term recommendations to Mayor Victorino by the end of July and longer-term strategies should be presented by the end of August. Federal relief funds must be expended by the end of December. It is being supported by staff from the Mayor’s Office, and is facilitated by Karey Kapoi (HMSA and Hawaii Community Foundation).
“I want to thank every member of this task force, and my staff and Karey, for their time and efforts to help guide how we spend these funds,” Mayor Victorino said. “We need to get the biggest bang for the buck. These individuals – with their deep roots and strong ties to our community, and their expertise in their fields – will help us be sure that we direct these funds in a manner that will benefit as many of our residents as possible.”