Kauai’s economic comeback

Let’s get right to the good news.

Economist Jack Suyderhoud says Kauai can look forward to continued growth and an improving economy in 2014.

“Tourism will continue to grow,” he told about 400 people who attend the 39th annual First Hawaiian Bank Economic Outlook Forum at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa on Thursday.

And a key to that future, he said during his 25-minute talk, are coffee and seed companies.

In 1987, Kauai had over 50,000 acres of cropland. As of 2007, it dropped to about 22,000 acres.

In that same time span, hired agriculture workers dropped from more than 2,000 to less than 1,300.  

“These declines would have been even greater without the rise of coffee, seed corn and other diversified ag ventures,” he said, a comment which drew applause from some in the crowd.

Kauai Coffee has 3,100 acres planted with 4 million trees, making them the largest coffee company in Hawaii.

“They have developed a good brand identity that will support their sales,” Suyderhoud said.

The seed corn industry is enormously important to Kauai’s economy, especially on the west side, he said.

“The four major players provide significant land rents to land holders and well-paying jobs to both agricultural and technical workers,” Suyderhoud said.

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