Rates signal strong state economy

The state expects an 11 percent increase in the number of individuals and businesses paying securities and franchise fees this year, a sign that the Hawaiian economy is doing well, officials said yesterday.

“Since the economy has remained robust, more business is generated and accordingly, more people in the securities industry are filing to conduct business in the state,” Christine Hirasa, a spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, wrote in an e-mail.

The state projects that it will receive more than 100,000 filings from broker-dealers, investment advisers and their representatives, securities salespeople, investment companies and franchises in the fiscal year ending October 2007, she said, up from 90,000 last year.

The revenue from related filing fees will exceed required operating expenses, so the department will extend an existing reduction of rates, according to a press release.

The reduction — a 50 percent discount — will return $2.5 million to filers, a small portion of the projected $30 million reduction the department has authorized for Hawai‘i businesses since 2003. On a case-by-case basis, that can amount to a savings of as little as $25.

“Every little bit helps,” said Rob Lansdell, an investment representative at Edward Jones, though he added that he doubted the full rate would keep anyone from going into business.

Existing investment companies have been expanding, he said. Edward Jones plans to add a third Kaua‘i office in Kapa‘a, he said.

People wary of trading stocks after the dot-com era and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are returning to these investments as the real-estate market sours, he said.

“I think people are starting to get over some of the concerns they had,” he said.

• Charlotte Woolard, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or cwoolard@kauaipubco.com.

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