Mayor Comments on Makena Resort Closure
Mayor Alan Arakawa met with officials from Makena Beach & Golf Resort on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, after Tuesday’s announcement that the resort would close on July 1 and lay off 385 employees.
Resort officials assured the mayor that the layoffs were necessary so that Makena Resort could reinvest $240 million into the property to create high-end condominiums. Once the renovations are complete, the property will rehire workers, the officials said.
“From what I’ve been told, Makena Resort will eventually be back, bigger than ever and perhaps hiring more employees than it had before,” said Mayor Arakawa. “The question is, what will their workers do over the next 30 months or so while construction is going on?
Mayor Arakawa noted that the county would help workers whenever possible, but that Makena Resort’s situation is much different than Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar’s layoffs, which were announced in January 2016.
“Agriculture jobs are hard to come by, while visitor industry jobs are in demand right now,” he said.
“There are 1,278 hotel rooms and time share units that will be opening up on Maui over the next 24 months,” said Teena Rasmussen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. “They will all need employees. In addition to that, almost every resort on the island currently has job openings. It is our opinion that these Makena Resort employees will be highly sought after.”
Maui County created the Sugar Operators Work Assistance Task Force to help laid off sugar workers find a new place in the community. The task force is a private-public partnership that lets workers know about job fairs, educational opportunities, continuing health benefits, financial planning and how to apply for rental assistance.
Mayor Arakawa said while most of the resources of the task force are geared to help agricultural workers, there may be some resources that could also help former resort employees.
“We will get through this together, as a community, as we always do,” Mayor Arakawa said.
Makena Resort officials predicted that many of their employees would likely be picked up by other hotel operations.
“Our employees trust us and look up to us, and we want to do right by them,” said Charles Sweeney, Makena Resort owner and chairman of Terinity Investments. “We fully intend to hire as many back again as we can eventually. Some may find other jobs by then, but anyone who wants to come back when we reopen will be welcomed with open arms.”
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Makena Beach & Golf Resort to Close July 1