NEWS & NOTES
State unemployment rates up slightly
• Hawai‘i’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for March inched up to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent in February, but still remains the lowest in the nation. The national average dipped from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent. In March of 2005, Hawai‘i’s rate was 2.9 percent, while the national average was 5.1 percent. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations report stated that Hawai‘i’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate has been lower than the national average by more than two percentage points since March 2004. Seasonal adjustments, which are important in understanding statistics from areas with heavy tourism, reflect the changes beyond the normal ebb and flow of the workforce throughout the year.
Over-the-month losses in government, education and health services and construction offset gains in trade, transportation and utilities and leisure and hospitality. The report said that the 500 construction jobs lost were primarily due to poor weather.
Builder breaks ground on 191-unit Po‘ipu community
• Brookfield Homes Hawai‘i broke ground on PiliMai at Po‘ipu Thursday with a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony. It’s the Kaua‘i-based company’s first neighborhood in the area, and will feature two pools, a recreation center and a spa. Buyers can choose from seven different floor plans.
KEDB bringing technology to schools
• The Third Annual Team Tech Kaua‘i Adopt a School Learning Celebration, hosted by Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste and put on by the Kauai Economic Development Board, is slated for 8:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall. Office of Economic Development Director Beth Tokioka said it’s an excellent program that she hopes will eventually foster the growth of a strong, local technology market.
Two popular restaurants relocate
• The Oki Diner celebrated its grand opening at its new Rice Street location Friday, bringing dim sum and late-night dining back to the Lihu‘e area. Owner Barbara Oki said that, with a 3:30 a.m. closing time, her diner is one of the only options for Kauaians craving some midnight munchies. While Oki Diner only moved a few blocks…
• Obsessions Cafe is relocating to Waimea from Kekaha. Owner Dennis Okihara decided to move his breakfast and lunch establishment, a Kekaha fixture for five years, east for increased foot traffic. Though the grand opening is still weeks away, Obsessions will be open for business at its new Waimea Road location May 2.
State partnership promotes small business exports
• The state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism announced a partnership with the Export-Import Bank of the United States to bring export financing services to small- and mid-sized businesses throughout the islands. The Ex-Im Bank has been helping finance the sale of U.S. exports since 1934, and helped support almost $14 billion in exports during the last fiscal year. Of the 3,128 transactions represented, more than 80 percent directly benefited small businesses.
“With Hawai‘i’s strategic location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, exporters are well-positioned to interact efficiently with businesses on the Mainland and throughout the Pacific region,” Ex-Im Bank Chairman James Lambright said in a press release.
Gov. Linda Lingle said she’s pleased to “help our small businesses tap into the power of U.S. government export financing.”
Four Kaua‘i real estate agents honored in San Francisco
• Coldwell Banker’s Bali Hai Realty Office in Hanalei sent four agents to CB’s International Business Convention in San Francisco recently. Barbara Sloan and Sarah Bernston, among the top 1 percent of CB’s 126,000 agents, were named to the International President’s Premier Team. Sean Ahearn made the President’s Elite (top 3 percent) and Jack Baker qualified for Diamond Society (top 13 percent).