• Editor’s note: This is the second installment of an eight-part series diving into the county’s efforts for economic recovery.
LIHU‘E – Tax relief, speedy permitting processes and fresh marketing strategies are a few of the ideas for helping local Kaua‘i businesses recover from pandemic protocols that have heavily impacted bottom lines and closed some doors for good.
Mark Perriello, president & CEO of Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce is one of the executive leaders in the Kaua‘i Economic Recovery Strategy Team (KERST) and is spearheading the Business Sector Committee who will implement the four recommendations initiated by the sector.
The first recommendation of the Business Sector is to provide Real Property Tax relief to Commercial Real Estate owners and business tenants.
Perriello said with so many businesses reporting a loss of income due to COVID-19, it is logical to assume they will face additional difficulty paying Real Property Tax in August 2020.
According to Perriello, the KERST Business Team recommended the following solutions:
• Waiving of late fees and interest on RPT paid after August 20, 2020 but fully paid before February 20, 2021.
• Establishing a revolving fund to provide interest free access to funds to pay RPT on time and as invoiced.
• Allow a discount for those who pay fully as invoiced and on time in August 2020.
The second recommendation is provide assistance with permitting.
Perriello said as has been done in post hurricane periods, expediting the county’s permitting process will spur needed spending in a sluggish economy, employ Kaua‘i residents, increase sales with local suppliers, add to the tax base, and in some cases add needed units to the housing sector on Kaua‘i.
The third recommendation is organize a “Shop Local” campaign.
“Our local businesses are struggling to survive right now. If they fail that means more of our friends and neighbors, aunties and uncles, and fellow community members are out of jobs and in some cases out of options,” said Perriello. “By shopping at local establishments, you support jobs and careers on our island and keep cash circulating in our local economy rather than lining some fat-cat’s pockets in Washington State and other places on the mainland.”
The final recommendation is to host a series of events to bring the community back together.
Perriello said once it is safe for them to do so, the community will be eager to reunite after a long period of social isolation.
“Our idea is to plan a series of family friendly events across the island, once we are given the green light, in order to rebuild our sense of connectedness and community,” said Perriello.
When TGI asked Perriello, “What the goal of the business sector is?” He said, “The goal of the KERST Business Team is to help infuse spending on our island by local residents, as well as boost online sales off island, in order to keep as many of our local businesses open and as many residents gainfully employed as possible.”
Perriello said he joined the taskforce naturally because Kaua‘i Chamber helps local businesses respond to COVID-19 impacts on their finances, employees, customer base and supply networks, so it was only fitting for him and his team to join and support Mayor Derek Kawakami’s economic recovery efforts.
Perriello said KERST is providing important leadership during this time of crisis. Their goal is to ensure a planned response to the economic fallout associated with COVID-19 rather than hobble together a piecemeal reaction.
Currently, the Business Sector committee is working on launching the Shop Local campaign this week with the help of Jaxon Communications; a Kaua‘i based social media and marketing firm.
Perriello predicts Kaua‘i businesses will be back and running at a successful speed when visitors can safely return to our island, without posing a significant health risk to locals.
Since the pandemic started, and even with more restrictions lifted, many businesses on Kaua‘i are still closed and resources are limited.
“Unfortunately, start-up money is hard to come by and entrepreneurs who are strapped for cash will need to seek funding from traditional sources like the federal government, venture capitalists, and individual investors,” said Perriello.
Financial literacy is available from the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce through a series of webinars, where they will discuss important issues related to COVID-19.
“Follow us on Facebook to learn more about upcoming sessions,” said Perriello. “Visit the Kaua‘i Chamber’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date information on available funding options at: www.covid19kauai.com.”
For more information on KERST go to: www.kauaiforward.com.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.