HOOSER: Use COVID cash to help small businesses

Within the next 14 days at least $21 million ($600 per person) and possibly up to $70 million ($2,000 per person) will fall from the sky and into the pockets of local Kaua‘i residents.

How we collectively spend these funds is important, and whenever possible we should support locally-owned businesses, selling locally-produced products and services, that employ local residents.

For many, this money, along with the extended unemployment benefits, is critically important to paying the rent, putting food on the table, or perhaps buying those much-needed new shoes for the keiki. For others the funds are “extra” and will be spent accordingly on extra, non-essential items.

These funds will help those living beneath the very-real economic stress brought about by the pandemic. In addition, the money also serves an important function of stimulating the local economy.

A whole lot of cash is going to be dumped into our economy in a short amount of time, and with just a little bit of thought and effort we could easily double or triple its economic impact.

Please, take care of your family first, and then, if you have the luxury to do so, spend that money to help all Kaua‘i.

If you spend the money to purchase products from Amazon, or electronic fun stuff from a local big-box store, you will benefit personally, but the money will instantly exit the Kaua‘i economy and be gone as quickly as it arrived.

There will be no local economic stimulus whatsoever — none, zip, nada. Personal pleasure, personal satisfaction and personal benefit, perhaps, but no community benefit, and certainly no local economic stimulus.

However, if residents are able to spend that money on local businesses and purchase local products, that money will go into the paychecks of local employees. Those local employees (our friends and neighbors) could then also spend that same money on local businesses and local products, supporting the employment of even more local employees, thus doubling or tripling or more the impact of the initial stimulus.

“If you imagine the local economy as a bucket full of water, every time you spend money that goes outside the local area, it leaks out the bucket,” said the New Economics Foundation.

”Generally, our energy is focused on trying to pour more money into an area so as to keep filling up the bucket. However, a better starting point for strengthening the local economy should be to try to prevent the money leaking out in the first place…A higher proportion of money re-spent in the local economy means a higher multiplier effect because more income is generated for local people,” according to the New Economics Foundation.

Our locally-owned restaurants and local farmers especially need our help at the moment and, if possible, this is where the lion’s share of those funds should be spent.

$100 spent at a local farmers’ market or directly from a local farmer is $100 that stays on Kaua‘i and in the pockets of hardworking, local farmers. That same $100 spent at a big-box store or fast-food chain is to a great extent exported off-island to pay for the imported food, transportation, administrative overhead and profits of that offshore corporation.

Similarly, spending that money at a locally-owned restaurant that serves local beef, fish and greens is an investment in our community and in our local economy.

And, not to worry, the jobs created by the big-box stores and their fast-food counterparts will not be going away if we choose to spend our COVID money at locally-owned businesses, buying local products and services. While the news has been full of stories about the hardship and closing of locally-owned businesses and restaurants, I have yet to see the same for fast-food chains or national retailers.

According to the U.S. census, approximately 70,000 people call Kaua‘i home, and the median income is approximately $70,000. Consequently, approximately 50% of Kaua‘i will qualify for the stimulus payment. Translation: Depending on the final outcome of the discussions now occurring in the U.S. Senate, between $21 million (@$600 per person) and $70 million (@$2,000 per person) will arrive here on our little island within the next 10 days.

The priorities of paying for housing and the core expenses of supporting our families must, of course, come first. But for those who have a little extra, let’s do what we can to support our small businesses and launch our 2021 local economy with a bang. Spend your COVID money if at all possible at locally-owned businesses, selling locally-grown food, locally produced products, and locally provided services. And yes, when eating out ask specifically for “local-grown options,” and, of course, tip your server generously as well. 🙂

Happy New Year to all!


Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

  1. USAF brat December 30, 2020 5:22 am Reply

    Your Letter Dear Kauaians Since the late 40’s when my USAF intelligence officer dad fought in the Korea and WWII era. The ohana traveled at that time with the ‘warrior’. Dad was involved with many top secret concon’s specifically that of Hickham AFB in 1958-59, when a Top Secret stationing concon occurred and that cover was blown in the middle of Waikiki. An Officer recognizing my dad as we walked to the Kodak Hula Show, ask “Sir, Major F what do you think about our putting a noose around Hawaii neck?” I’m 11, so I had no idea what this Naval Officer was indicating, but I sure did find out five minutes later, although the specifics didn’t get to me until 2011 in the way of my dad’s career ‘footlocker’ which held unredacted documents of that and other U.S. military directives via my dad’s superiors, upper hierarchy. Dad following orders.

    Sixty-one years later and completing K.C.C. R.N. A.D. Nursing School Program as well as owning and starting an emergency call center, 24-7-365 Live voice, operation Central Answering Services, out from my Kapaia home 1979. Then after Iwa business was moved upstairs to City Liquor and the Hideaway Bar until Iniki, when we were then successful to the point where we got to move to Wailuauka. Now 2020, we have been boondoggled by the CCP, Wuhan, and Fentanyl. We voted in a recent rigged election, one of at least 127-years backstory rigged elections, to the point of this writing.

    COK looking to curb its expenses. At one point, there was the original ambulance crew of which I was an EMT and in those days, we couldn’t even get KPD much less the KFD to escort or receive “backup from our comrades” as is occurring today. A medical emergency now requires both small and big Fire Truck and personnel dispatch per their Unions, that has bargained with our tax payer dollars to boot up their rigs, sirens blaring and several times a day they trapes up past Opaeka’a Falls to every sort of medical emergency, but never a fire. I have inquired of my KFD friends why is this? Of course they opine that it is in an “effort to support the EMS”, when I know these words are not even close to being the correct answer.

    Everyone of my career 40-years experiences and comrades from Wilcox Hospital know as do all the KPD, COK, state DLNR dobor, Kaua’I Bus etc, that everyone of these individuals or hui are gaming us so much so, that it has become a RICO enhanced set of plans, manipulations, and maneuvers.

    Until these same groups of supposed professionals, politicians, judiciary and military fess up. It will continue to be the ol boys racket and there will be no resources remaining to dismiss that which has grown very dark, dank and evil.

    I encourage Kauaians who knows and sees these same things and remembers all of the different backstories that apply. If you don’t remember, then due diligence Library research the Garden Island Newspaper, so you can recall every detail that has been published and laid to rest within the archives and let us get a truthful dialogue with renewed integrity going on as a guest or in the ‘Letter to the Editor’ sections, and at the least, get some detailing going on in “HOW we are going to stop this insanity and get it right.”

    Obviously the county council has their agenda already going on with their choice again, for who is the Chairman and I believe that it all is just a revolving door, where innocents were set-up and others are undercover hiding the reality of truly bizarre incidents or that now we have a new police chief and fire chief NOT from here but from Las Vegas. Why wasn’t there a born and raised candidate chosen instead? To me that means that soon the fedwreckian hui out of Anahola will be boasting a casino owned and operated by them. Wait, didn’t we used to have cock-fighting that filled the needs of gambling addiction or was that traded off for drug addictions and Pay-lay ‘Mongrel’ mobs instead?

    Awaken, because Kauai has lost its edge. The USAF, NAVY, NASA at PMRF is erecting as we speak, completed by 2022, a 1.2 Billion $ 12-story Ballistic Missile Launch-Intercept Facility and that is the reason why DLNR closed Polihale indefinitely, not because the “locals were acting badly”.

    HK was never extinguished, No Treaty of Annexation was ratified, and military occupation continues without shame, 127-years. Remember “”Oops, Incoming not a drill?” Nightly news showing a father lowering his daughter into a drainage manhole cover!!!! Is this how you want your children, grands and great-grands or great-great grandchildren to be a part of after we’ve been kakked?

    Ahui hou

  2. Angela N. Taylor December 30, 2020 5:51 am Reply

    FWIW, people from across the country are receiving stimulus checks in the coming weeks. Many will need a place to spend that money, and more than a few would be willing to spend it on a vacation to Kauai.

    NOW is the time to lift the draconian 10 day lockdown imposed on island “guests.” Share the Aloha with visitors, and they WILL help the local economy to recover in these hard times.

  3. RG DeSoto December 30, 2020 7:41 am Reply

    Another example illustrating exactly what Hooser thinks of us mundanes: that we’re ignorant and incapable of making our own decisions. What a load of paternalistic drivel, Gary. Mind your own business.
    RG DeSoto

    1. SteveMartin December 30, 2020 7:34 pm Reply

      Yes he spends plenty of time trying to save us all from ourselves. I totally agree… MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS gary! Oh and by the way all those mainland big box stores you speak about Gary, don’t furnish their stores with personnel. The people who live here work those stores and I’ll guarantee their paychecks are spent here not some mainland corporation as you put it.

  4. Joe Public December 30, 2020 11:14 am Reply

    GI must be desperate having this guy write editorials when he did nothing while in office

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