Mayor Bissen meets with Hawaiʻi congressional delegation, attends Hawaiʻi on the Hill in Washington, D.C.
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen met with Hawaiʻi congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., to discuss Maui County priorities during meetings with US Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and with US Representatives Ed Case and Jill Tokuda.
Interisland transportation between Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi and a need for federal funding to support those and other efforts were discussed. His administration’s focus on infrastructure, agriculture, economic diversification and affordable housing were also highlighted during meetings with Hawaiʻi congressional delegation.
Washington, D.C., policymakers during a Policy Summit spoke on issues that impact businesses in Hawai’i and across the country according to a news release recap. This year, US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge discussed affordable housing and federal funding from landmark legislation to help address homelessness. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on congressional legislation. Agricultural and environmental topics from other speakers rounded out the summit.
During the multiday trip, Mayor Bissen helped showcase Maui County’s small businesses with Hawaiʻi on the Hill, which brings some of the best Aloha State products and industries to the US Capitol. The 7th annual event drew more than 1,000 attendees, comprising local business leaders and county, state and federal officials.
“It was a tremendous opportunity to be able to bring the needs of our county to the nation’s capital and speak directly with our congressional delegation,” said Mayor Bissen, who returns to Maui today. “Being a county with multiple island communities makes us unique, and interisland transportation needs impact medical care, business operations and connecting families. It is important to seek available support.”
A lei draping ceremony to honor King Kamehameha was held Sunday at the Capitol. Donning full regalia, also known as the cloak of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Mayor Bissen, a member of the royal order, presented lei on behalf of the County of Maui during the ceremony that included Hawaiʻi congressional, state and local delegates, along with representatives from Hawaiʻi State Society of Washington D.C., Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools Alumni and Papa Ola Lōkahi.
Products from dozens of Hawaiʻi businesses, including Maui’s County’s own Hapa Company venison beef jerky from Molokaʻi, Maui Chili Chili Oil, Maui Coffee Roasters, Maui Gold Pineapple, Maui Brewing Co., Maui Kuia Estate Chocolate, Maui Nui Venison Hawaii, Uncle Louie’s Sausage, Ono Loa raw honey from Lānaʻi and Maui Rainbow Tea, were showcased among dozens of small businesses at the week’s signature event, Taste of Hawaiʻi, held at the Hart Senate building.
“Helping promote our local products was a special highlight of the week,” Mayor Bissen said.
Hawaiʻi Rep. Jill Tokuda and Mayor Bissen on Tuesday spotlighted the winner of the US House of Representatives Artistic Discovery Contest, which is on display in the US Capitol. Maui High School’s Cailyn Omuro was selected among students nationwide for her piece, “Hanagasa Waraba.”
The annual Hawaiʻi on the Hill event, which returned June 13 to 15, 2023, after a break due to the pandemic, emphasizes the importance of supporting Hawaii-owned businesses by featuring dozens of locally made products in Washington, D.C. Small businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees, represent 99.3% of all Hawaiʻi businesses, according to the US Small Business Administration.
More than 40 Hawaiʻi businesses attended this year’s Hawaiʻi on the Hill. Presented by Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, the event is a partnership between Sen. Hirono and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.