Hawaii’s PPE increases thanks to $10 million of federal CARES Act funds


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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Small businesses made personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep Hawaii safe and healthy after they got a portion of the $10 million in grants from federal CARES Act funds.
Businesses got grants ranging from $10,000 to $500,000.

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Kauai Kookie company used the grant to make cloth face masks. In the early stages of the pandemic, they gave out free Kauai Kookies to customers wearing face masks.

According to Ann Hashisaka, one of Kauai Kookies owners, “Our pivot was to bring in a consultant to teach our existing bakery employees necessary sewing skills so they could immediately begin mask making which helped to keep all of our employees on staff,” said Ann Hashisaka, co-owner of Kauai Kookies.”As a manufacturer, our processes allow us to create what our customers need, whether it is a kookie or a mask. We make all our products including our newest masks with Aloha. And we say Mahalo to our customers and to HTDC for their support!”

The PPE Supply Chain Program displayed the impressive adaptability of Hawaii companies. They repurposed their manufacturing processes to quickly create lifesaving products. We all learned that innovation is not only key to economic survival but is the catalyst to new business models. In an effort to keep the momentum going, lawmakers just passed a Hawaii Made initiative, SB 263. The measure provides DBEDT with $150,000 to create a “manufacturing concierge service. The effort will better coordinate the multiple stages of manufacturing and promote the sale of locally made products. As the State contemplates the need to diversify our economy, lawmakers are looking to harness the strength of tourism to promote locally made products. If we want visitors to spend more money during their stay, let us send them home with more locally made products. Each tourist should be seen as our product ambassadors – they are a readymade distribution channel. I am working with airlines to fill the belly of their planes with reduced cargo rates and having them waive baggage fees for bulky purchases for Hawaii made items.

State Senator, Glenn Wakai
Chairperson of Energy, Economic Development and Tourism committee

The grants for businesses with less than 50 people were distributed by Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) Innovate Hawaii program. Hawaii legislators with help from HTDC, DBEDT, Hawaii Small Business Development Center worked together to make this happen.

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