West Maui Proposed for Medical Enterprise Zone
By Wendy Osher
Maui could be the site of a medical enterprise zone under a bill being considered at the state legislature. The 7-year pilot program would be based on the West side of the Valley Isle a region that has long been the focus of discussion for a second island hospital. Rep. Angus McKelvey of West Maui was among those who joined in introducing the bill.
The program is designed to provide regulatory and tax relief to the new proposed West Maui hospital long term care project and also serve as a magnet for other types of healthcare investment into the new 560 acre campus concept envisioned for the facility.
“It’s really important that government look at establishing these types of incentives that will help the West Maui Hospital to succeed and flourish, thereby allowing it to continue to be an essential part of the lifeline of critical care in the community and to provide people the expansion opportunities to hire and retain local people in the highly skilled jobs that will be created through this endeavor,” said McKelvey.
Under the proposed legislation the bill would create a critical nucleus of medical and research facilities and also create highly skilled jobs in the medical and research fields including biotechnology, biomedicine, and pharmaceutical research and development.
The item cleared its first hurdle after gaining unanimous passage out of the House committee on economic Revitalization, Business and Military Affairs. It now goes to a floor vote and then moves on to the House Health Committee for a second hearing.
“The fact that we had testimony from students at Lahainaluna who are excited about working in the health care industry in West Maui, to our kupuna who are concerned about expanding health care options in the area clearly impressed the committee and those in the audience,” said McKelvey.
“I think it shows that when the public gets involved and they testify and they raise their voices in unison, that things can happen in Honolulu for us in a big way,” said McKelvey.