Upward trend

LIHUE — The state is projecting big things for the County of Kauai.

Specifically, it thinks The Garden Isle will outpace neighboring islands when it comes to industry and occupational growth by 2020.

The Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said in a report Wednesday that Kauai’s forecasted expansion rate of 15.4 percent in both sectors will be tops in the state.

Manufacturing, professional services, hospitality and construction will be some of the fields with the biggest gains on Kauai, it said.

“From now until 2020, we should see a tremendous leap in job growth,” said Luis Soltren, of Luis and Eddie Soltren Construction, about the state’s report.

While the contractor said he hasn’t seen much construction growth on the Eastside of the island or the North Shore, the South Shore is already experiencing an upward trend.

With nearly 40 years of experience in the construction business, Soltren said the forecast, which tabs building growth at 23 percent in Kauai, is positive.

Manufacturing is pegged to grow 37 percent on the island, while financial activities could jump almost 20 percent. Hospitality, one of Kauai’s staple industries, is expected to increase nearly 18 percent.

Several publications contributed to the report, which the Research and Statistics Office produces to provide long-term industry and occupational projections.

While it was issued Wednesday, some experts have already said that Kauai could expect economic growth, especially in hospitality.

“Tourism will continue to grow,” Economist Jack Suyderhound said last month during an economic outlook forum at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. He pointed to a number of other projects already in the works as good indicators growth is on the horizon.

Grove Farm’s Hokulei Center construction is getting underway this year, with Safeway as an anchor tenant. Hawaii Dairy Farms is planning a $14 million investment for a 2,000-head operation at Mahaulepu Valley that will supply 7 percent of the state’s milk supply.

Kauai isn’t alone when it comes to expansion.

Positive industry growth is projected for all of the counties through 2020, the report said.

Maui County should increase at a 15.1 percent clip for second most, Hawaii County at 14.8 percent and Honolulu at 10.5 percent. However, with an expected gain of 49,970 jobs from 2010 to 2020, Honolulu will account for nearly two-thirds of the total statewide increase in jobs.

While Kauai’s occupational growth rate is the highest at 15.4 percent, it’s added net occupation increase of 4,700 is the smallest of the counties.

Education and health services, 21 percent, together with jobs connected to tourism, 15 percent, will contribute significantly to the total number of positions added during the projection period statewide, the report said.

Government, manufacturing, information and natural resources and mining are among the industries forecasted to see the most anemic growth statewide, the report added.

• Reporter Léo Azambuja contributed to this report


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