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High-Tech Times Article 033

Hawaii Technology Trade Association

Welcome back to the High-Tech Times. Let me make an educated guess that you, my readers, are interested in technology, especially technology in Hawaii. Well, so am I, as my wife and I enjoy living and working here. But in case you haven’t noticed, Hawaii is not very well known as a high-tech mecca, nor has it been on anyone’s list as the next Silicon Valley.
This upsets many of us who know how good a technology hub Hawaii really could be, with our outstanding telecommunications infrastructure, a local supercomputer that is available to the public, and many excellent technology companies (including mine). Technology is one of the best industries for Hawaii, as it is usually manpower-intensive, seldom hurts the environment, and is often location-non-specific (in other words, a technology company can be located anywhere).
So in early 1999, a group of us started having meetings to create what was to become the Hawaii Technology Trade Association, or HTTA. HTTA’s mission is to grow the technology industry in Hawaii by fostering and facilitating a healthy business, funding, educational, and governmental environment for Hawaii’s technology companies.  The three major goals of HTTA are: 

Supporting existing local technology companies to prosper and grow

Facilitating the local development of more technology?related businesses

Encouraging more mainland and international technology companies to establish a presence in Hawaii

When HTTA had its first meeting on September 23, 1999, we were hoping for 100 members, but instead found that well over 200 had signed up to join. And today, we’ve doubled that, with over 400 members from Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island. HTTA industry members represent a wide range of technology sectors, including Information Technology, Telecommunications, Software, Biotechnology, Health & Medical Technology, and Ocean/Earth/Space Sciences. HTTA’s members also include professional services and educational organizations that actively support Hawaii’s technology industry. You can get more information on HTTA on our Web-site:
Rather than being perceived as just another group of special interests, HTTA has been working closely with the Hawaii State Legislature to ensure that technology remains alive and well statewide. With the help of a number of HTTA members, the Legislature was able to pass 24 bills in support of technology, including tax credits for technology businesses, an increase in available investment capital for technology firms, increased technology in education, the standardization of e-commerce functions like electronic signatures, and significant government deregulation.
This was the first year that Legislators and Governor Cayetano’s staff had a single source of technology information. “The new high-tech tax incentives that we passed into law this year will help to position Hawaii as one of the most attractive places to do New Economy business,” stated Ray Kamikawa, the Hawaii State Tax Director. “These initiatives also reduce the burden of taxation for our local technology companies, as well as encouraging growth, and offering alternatives to moving out of Hawaii.”
Part of my task was to work with Joe Blanco, the Governor’s “technology czar,” and Ray to create definitions for “technology” and “high-tech business” that would allow the State to help our businesses, while not eliminating Ray’s entire tax base. I was more than slightly astounded to find that no one anywhere had ever provided a definition for either of these terms! With the help of many smart people, HTTA was able to provide Joe and Ray with exactly what they needed. You can see the results of these efforts by browsing over to and can download the Tax Director’s Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or PDF file.
But HTTA doesn’t plan to sit on its laurels and congratulate ourselves on what we’ve done; we’re still looking for new ideas to implement next year from anyone, whether a technology company or an end-user. I personally consider the growth of technology in Hawaii to be one of the most important factors for our future: tourism is down, and Hawaii has to compete against hundreds of new countries that are very actively seeking the tourist dollar; the “peace dividend” for the U.S. is slowly but surely cutting Hawaii’s military presence; and our once-vital agricultural industry is on wobbly legs, with almost insurmountable competition from third-world countries that have almost no labor overhead.
Without new industries, Hawaii will become a second-class “has-been.” But with an infusion of high-technology companies, our state can become a world leader in telecommunications, tele-medicine, and other technologies. No longer will our economy be completely dependent on the tourist dollar -- and we can continue to enjoy the warmth and beauty of Hawaii with almost zero pollution from industrial sources. Come join with HTTA to ensure that the New Economy will play a vital role in Hawaii.
See you next month.