Aloha and a hui hou

As some of you might know, I am soon leaving for Lana‘i and this will be my last Local Leaders column.

I have greatly enjoyed the warm welcome I received in my role as the director of the Small Business Development Center on Kaua‘i. And I have greatly appreciated your allowing me to help you either start your business or improve the profitability of your existing business.

I leave this beautiful island and wonderful community with sadness but also excitement, as I have been given the opportunity to once again work in the field of health care. I have accepted an executive director position at Lana‘i Community Health Center, a new federally qualified health care facility.

In this role, I will be responsible for developing the facility, which is devoted to patients who are uninsured, under-insured or covered by Medicare and Medicaid. As many of you have told me of friends and family on Lana‘i, I am hoping that my reception there will be as warm as it has been here on Kaua‘i.

The leadership at the SBDC is currently recruiting to fill my role here on Kaua‘i. It is likely that the position will be vacant for a few weeks, but the SBDC will be open for your business in the interim.

Call the office at 241-3148 and office manager Darlene Kaui will be able to assist you, triaging your call to our state office if necessary.

With our economy being so slow, now is a critically important time for your business. Do not hesitate to seek assistance.

Now is also a critical time for you to participate in the most important civic responsibility you have: voting. Take the time to understand each candidate’s position, and test their understanding of what concerns or challenges you have as a small business owner.

Do not accept catch phrases or slogans as answers to your issues. Demand detail that will allow you to really understand what their plans are and how you and your business will be affected.

For example, at a recent candidate forum, a question was asked about the candidates’ positions on providing a real property tax exemption for small business. All candidates were in favor of such an exemption. A nice sentiment, but most of the small-business owners that I have helped over the past two years would never even see such an exemption, as they do not own the property where their business is located.

On the other hand, an exemption from the general excise tax would be felt by all business owners and, most likely, welcomed with open arms.

Over the past two years, the small-business owners I have worked with have succeeded in strengthening the Kaua‘i economy and have built a foundation for their own personal future.

Now is the time to continue strengthening that foundation. Local, state, and federal elections are critical to accomplishing this — and we all have a role to play. We are in control of our destiny.

Aloha and a hui hou!

• Diana Shaw is leaving the position of director of the Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center’s Kaua‘i office. This is her final column for TGI. Mattie Yoshioka, president and CEO of the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board, will begin writing for Local Leaders in the Dec. 28 edition.


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