LIHUE — Friendly banter and pleasant laughter filled the air. College students shared details of their latest inventions. Business leaders chatted while munching on sliders and sipping on cocktails.
All the while a bright orange and red voyaging canoe shimmered outside, a reminder of earlier times when a handshake was all that was needed to do business.
Business After Hours, hosted by Kauai Community College this month, drew nearly 100 attendees to the campus on Thursday.
Kauai Chamber of Commerce’s monthly social networking event has been highly successful, connecting member initiatives with community resources.
It’s held at different venues around the island and has quietly become one of the chamber’s more popular programs under the direction of its president, Mark Perriello.
Business After Hours is more than just banter and pupus. It can be where people develop contacts, meet potential clients and discover new ways to grow their business.
“It’s so beneficial to me, especially in these atmospheres, to meet the local business people on a one-to-one basis without any pressure, without any phone calls,” said Santa in Paradise’s Phil Worwa, who has been a chamber member for 11 years. “Everybody’s very well connected here, so if you need anything you just have to approach those people.”
The relaxed crowd was buzzing with conversation and excitement at KCC’s One Stop Center Lobby.
“It’s a wonderful event for gathering together and business networking, and also to give companies brand recognition,” said Penny Tomacder of Wyndham Vacation Ownership. “It’s friends meeting with friends. We see each other at every Business After Hours and quarterly dinner, and you also get to meet new businesses too.”
This month’s event gave members the chance to meet KCC instructors and new administrators.
“It’s an opportunity to share with the community one of the best-kept secrets on the island, which is Kauai Community College,” said Helen Cox, chancellor of the school. “Everybody knows we exist, but most people don’t know the variety and quality of programs we have. This is our opportunity to show the community what we’re doing.”
Instructor of automotive technology, Gordon Talbo, demonstrated his students’ exhibit for a hybrid synergy drive that is aimed at creating more awareness for sustainable energy sources and efficient automotive design.
“Right now we’re training the next generation of technicians for this island,” Talbo said.
The college was also promoting its degree and certificate programs available via Distance Education for business and hospitality, education, information and computer science, medical and health care, public administration and human services.
“This is the first term in the history of Kauai Community College that we’re offering an associate in science degree in Creative Media,” said Stephen Watkins, KCC coordinator of Creative Media. “We depend heavily on industry experts, the people that are gathered here, for input to help our students and to help our program grow and to provide the exact curriculum needed for students to succeed. Without the industry experts, we really can’t complete the circle of accurate and effective education and students’ success in actually getting jobs. This really pulls it all together.”
The exchange of information was filled with smiles accompanied by pupus from Mark’s Place and bananas foster prepared by students of the culinary program.
“I look for people that have interesting things, like the chef of the culinary school if they have events they want to promote, to get more information about what the community is doing for visitors, newcomers and locals,” said Tracy Davidson, owner of Tracy’s Maps. “Business After Hours brings people together and gets them out of the house to share what we’re doing and how we can help each other.”