Awards, keynote speaker to headline banner day for Kaua’i chamber

April is small business month, and new Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce president Randy Francisco is planning accordingly. Capitalizing on timing and the recent announcement of the Small Business Association’s annual award winners, Francisco is spearheading an effort to refocus on small businesses, which make up 85 percent of the roughly 400 chamber members.

“To the outsider, the chamber seems to be about big business,” he said. “But in reality, it’s about small business.”

The chamber recently partnered with the SBA, and, on April 18, the two organizations will host the inaugural Small Business Exposition and Small Business Administration Awards at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club. The day-long expo kicks off at 9 a.m. and includes five workshops tailored to small business success and a luncheon with keynote speaker Rosa Say. The SBA Awards will follow, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Six Kaua’i businesses are among the 17 statewide winners. For Francisco, it’s a strong sign of things to come.

“With our new partnership with the SBA, we’re looking to do more things throughout the year with small businesses,” he said. Efforts will include regular workshops addressing complicated issues which can overwhelm small business owners.

“These businesses don’t have human resources departments, they don’t have accounting departments,” Francisco said. “We can help.”

Francisco, along with his two-person staff, also plans to reach out to businesses on the western shore.

In the meantime, however, he’s got his hands full.

In addition to a morning work-shop, leadership coach Rosa Say plans to expound upon the concept of bringing Hawai’i’s universal values, tradition and honor into the business environment, a topic explored in her book, “Managing With Aloha.” Nelson Befitel, Hawai’i’s director of Labor and Industrial Relations, is also slated to appear, leading a workshop on updated worker’s compensation laws.

The joint Business After Hours social and SBA Awards presentation will cap off the evening. Of the 17 Hawai’ian businesses honored, 10 will be recognized at the state level. Of those, four are from Kaua’i.

Randy and Russ Boyer, owners of Aloha Lumber in Kapa’a, have been named the state’s small business person of the year.

Tad and Eric Miura and Ann Yamamoto of the Miura Store, an apparel company also known as Deja Vu Surfwear, will be honored as the family-owned small business of the year.

The home-based business champion of the year is Joy Koerte and Jenny Fujita of Fujita and Miura Public Relations, and the women in business champion of the year is Barbara Bennet, publisher of the Kaua’i Island News in Lihu’e.

Oscar Portugal (County of Kaua’i and the Kaua’i Filipino Chamber of Commerce) and Pamela Brown (Write Path) will receive recognition at the county level as minority small business champion of the year and small business journalist of the year, respectively.

For more information on participation, luncheon tickets and schedule of events, see www.kauaichamber.org.

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