Innovation highlighted in Waimea

WAIMEA — Innovation was in the spotlight and winners were everywhere on the grounds of “The Manager’s House” at Waimea Plantation Cottages on Thursday during the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours.

Taking the theme of “Kaua‘i’s Best in Business Innovation Awards,” Waimea Plantation Cottages manager Stephanie Iona used the event to showcase the Westside property’s capabilities to special guests Sally McIlveen of Canada and her daughter Jessica McIlveen of Australia who will be returning in five months to get wed on the Waimea property, the Chamber guests being guests will taking on unspoken roles of players in the showcasing of the Waimea Plantation Cottages staff.

“You in small businesses are to be commended on the work you do to keep us moving forward,” Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said, following the awards presentation.

Randall Francisco, president of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, said the “winner” of the Business Innovation Award will join other Hawai‘i state organizations in being considered to be showcased to more than 20,000 attendees from 21 countries and an estimated 2,000 media representatives when the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, hosted by the United States, opens in Honolulu, Nov. 7 through 13.

During the APEC convention, activities will be centered in Honolulu, but Francisco said there will be great opportunities to promote Kaua‘i, and Kaua‘i’s businesses during the side trips which will spin off from the APEC event.

George Costa, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development, said the three finalists being honored Thursday night stemmed from an original field of nine companies which were whittled down by a selection committee of Kaua‘i business and community leaders.

“Credit for this Business Innovation Awards go to Barry Taniguchi of KTA Markets who spearheaded the Neighbor Island efforts,” Costa said. “Based on population, Kaua‘i earned three finalists, Maui and the Big Island each earned six finalists, and O‘ahu, with the biggest population, earned 20 finalists.”

Costa said the six companies which were part of the original nine being considered included Trailing Edge Technology, Solypsis Corp., Oceanit Labs Inc., Aunty Lilikoi and the National Tropical Botanical Garden and its Breadfruit Institute which addresses world hunger.

The three Kaua‘i finalists include Aqua Engineers, Malie Inc., and Trex Enterprises Corp.

Trex Enterprises Corp, featuring optical and structural components from proprietary TREX CVC SRC, was named the top company from Kaua‘i and will join the other winners from each county as well as an overall state winner in being showcased during APEC.

The five showcase awardees will be announced Sept. 6 and will be showcased during the APEC 2011 Leaders’ Week in November.

“APEC in itself is a big thing for the state,” Carvalho said. “Each of the island mayors have been meeting to see how each island can benefit from it.”

Carvalho said Kaua‘i will be receiving visitors from Shanghai and will also celebrate a Sister City program with Iwaki City, Japan.

Aside of the business innovations award announcements, Francisco pointed out the numerous food contributions from local establishments which helped create the success for the evening.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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