Maui Business

OHA Developing Economic Self-Sufficiency Initiative in Hana

January 17, 2012, 10:36 AM HST
* Updated January 18, 6:06 AM
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Hana residents gather for a community meeting with staff from OHA.. Photo by Stacy Naipo

By Sonia Isotov

More than two dozen Hana residents reacted with enthusiasm and hope in helping shape an income initiative aimed at improving the economic well-being of Native Hawaiians in the area.

In a nearly two-hour meeting last Thursday, January 12, at Helene Hall across from Hana Bay, residents conferred over spreadsheets in the middle of four long tables where they listed how the Office of Hawaiian Affairs can best support their desire to help the community’s roughly 300 Native Hawaiians better achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Their ideas included helping entrepreneurs in Hana overcome barriers to starting and expanding their businesses as well as supporting career-training programs that would allow Hana residents to learn a high-paying trade, which is a source of greater concern among the community’s younger generation.

The initiative would require OHA to work in a radically different way with community partners to identify programs that will help Native Hawaiians build economic stability for their families.

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“People in our community like to see outcomes,” said Melody Cosma-Gonsalves, 36, a teacher at Hana High School who participated in the community meeting organized by a team from OHA.

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“But it would be empowering to people in our community to see new opportunities to become entrepreneurs as well as vocational programs that can develop skills in such career fields as roofing, carpentry and cosmetology.”

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