The Maui Chamber of Commerce was in our nation's capital for the first-ever "Hawaii On The Hill" to showcase manufacturing in Hawaii and feature locally made products. It came about when U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono reached out to the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii to help put on a "Taste of Hawaii" event as other states had done similar things and Hawaii had never been represented in this way.
Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara and her team reached out to the Neighbor Island chambers and other statewide partners to join in the effort and take Hawaii to our nation's capital.
It was an amazing opportunity and important event to feature the tremendous work and amazing products of local manufacturers.
While the main event was held on Wednesday, activities began on Tuesday with a morning talk story with Hirono.
This was followed by a Capitol Hill tour, a meeting with President and CEO Jay Timmons and the staff of the National Association of Manufacturers, and a welcome reception for Hawaii On The Hill participants at Google's headquarters in D.C. Sens. Hirono and Brian Schatz and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were at the reception, talking story with the participants.
It was also great to find several of Hawaii's bright young stars working at the Capitol for our congressional delegation, including Alex Chun and Michael Sugimura for Hirono's office and Jade Silver of Schatz's office.
Approximately 50 Hawaii businesses and vendors participated in the Hawaii On The Hill event at the Capitol on Wednesday, which consisted of a Hawaii on the Hill Policy Summit and Taste of Hawaii On Capitol Hill reception, with Hirono serving as an honorary guest, alongside the entire Hawaii delegation.
The Hawaii Policy Summit featured policy discussions with Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Chris Coons of Delaware, Director Patricia Loui with the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director for Export Promotion Leila Aridi Afas, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Margaret Cummisky.
The chamber partnered with the Maui County Office of Economic Development and Innovate Hawaii to feature several Maui-made products at this event, including:
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, Maui Fruit Jewels, Maui Preserved, No Ka Oi Nut Co., and Surfing Goat Dairy. They were represented by Kim Haueisen of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, Thomas Kafsack of Surfing Goat Dairy and myself.
Other Hawaii representatives included:
Ansaldo Honolulu, Big Island Candies, Boeing Hawaii, Haute Confectionery Boutique, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Hawaii Medical Service Association, Hawaiian Host, Hawaiian Sun, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Highway Inn, Innovate Hawaii, High Technology Development Corp., Iolani Palace, Kamakura Corp., Kauai Chamber, Kauai Coffee Co., Kauai Kookie Co., Koloa Rum,Kona-Kohala Chamber, Navatek, NOH Foods, Orchid Lei Co., Pacific Allied Products, Pacifica Hawaii Salt, Queens Development Corp., Really Ono, Salty Wahine, Aunty Lilikoi, The Hawaiian Chip Co. and Tiki Shark Art.
The event was all the buzz on Capitol Hill and more than 700 attended.
Stay tuned to learn more about how well it went. We are already looking forward to next year.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.