KALAHEO — For Fred Cowell, general manager of Kauai Coffee Company, Hawaii on the Hill allows Kauai business owners to forge close bonds.
“It’s not just for individual companies, but industry groups and companies in that area,” Cowell said. “Kauai Kookie is our close neighbor in Kalaheo, and we help each other set up there. It builds camaraderie in our businesses.”
Kauai Coffee Company is one of five businesses representing Kauai at the fourth annual Hawaii on the Hill, which kicks off on Tuesday.
Hawaii on the Hill, which takes place in Washington, D.C., is made possible by Sen. Mazie Hirono and the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.
It was organized in an effort to showcase the Aloha State’s businesses and industries to policymakers on Capitol Hill. The two-day itinerary includes a welcome reception, policy summit and the Taste of Hawaii on Capitol Hill.
In 2016, over 50 vendors from all the islands participated, and more than 1,200 people attended.
This year, 69 businesses from all over Hawaii will attend the event, said Katie Arita-Chang, spokeswoman for Hirono.
“Hawaii on the Hill is an important opportunity for local businesses and our elected officials to share their issues and concerns with federal lawmakers and to meet with government and private grant makers,” said Mark Perriello, president of the Kauai chamber of Commerce.
Perriello, who lived in Washington, D.C., for 15 years before moving to Kauai, is hoping to help bring Kauai businesses to the forefront.
“Thousands of D.C. opinion makers, congressional staff, members of the administration, and members of Congress gather to experience all that Hawaii has to offer including delicious samples from great local companies like Koloa Rum, Kauai Coffee, Lappert’s Hawaii and Kauai Kookies,” he said.
Kauai Coffee Company has been attending the event since it began, Cowell said.
“Although legislatures do a fantastic job in reaching out to community during their breaks, it’s rare opportunity to interact with they and their full staff in the Washington environment,” Cowell said.
Representatives from Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts, the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai Chamber of Commerce, the County of Kauai and the Hawaii state Senate will also be attending Hawaii on the Hill.
“The island of Kauai has always been very well represented, compared to the rest of the state,” Cowell said. “It’s a chance to talk about what’s affecting us, and we can get a lot done because we’re out of our normal working environment.”