Times Article 033
Technology Trade Association
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
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: http://www.htta.org.
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
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 http://www.state.hi.us/tax/hi_tech.html and
can download the Tax Director’s Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or PDF
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.