BREAKING: Mayor Launches Maui Economic Recovery Task Force
By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino today announced the launch of an Economic Recovery Task Force for the County, which is charged with making recommendations on how to spend the $67 million in CARES Act funds to best support local residents and businesses.
The task force held their first meeting on Wednesday, July 8, to brainstorm ideas and prioritize focus areas. Mayor Victorino said, “The task force will be a key asset in where federal funding will be coming from and how to direct it, and what policy changes need to be made, and the best response for the economic impact for COVID-19.”
Members will also be reviewing and suggesting possible changes to County laws or policies to further assist businesses recovering from economic impacts.
The task force aims to make short-term recommendations to Mayor Victorino by the end of July with long-term strategies presented by the end of August. Federal relief funds must be expended by the end of the current year (Dec. 30, 2020).
Member, Buddy “James” Nobriga of Maui Soda and Ice Works said that after holding their first meeting the Task Force came up with three areas of focus:
- (1) family and well being to address childcare, kupuna health, access to food, housing protection and a broadband deployment effort;
- (2) advocacy and access to discuss job training, government support, safety and education; and
- (3) resources–how to pool them and use them to the best of our ability. This includes rent and mortgage relief, support the non-profits, job placement and small business promotion and support.
The task force will have 21 members, but a list of 19 was provided. It is made up of industry leaders with deep roots and strong ties to the community. Members include the following:
- Airlines: Jeff Tarpey, United Airlines
- Arts & Entertainment: Art Vento, Maui Arts & 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, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College
- Finance: Dean Duque, First Hawaiian Bank; and Gary Fukuroku, 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: Kaponoʻai 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 also reached out to Agricultural industry leaders, who will also be joining the task force.