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Hawai'i CC Updates: Getting Ready for Recovery

Note: This column appeared in the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii Newsletter.

As the health crisis created by COVID-19 begins to slowly taper and our economy begins to re-open, it’s imperative that as a community we are prepared to help boost the recovery and create a more resilient economy that can better withstand future crises.

photo of rachel solemsaasFor example, it’s expected that federal stimulus funding will be available for major projects devoted to broadband internet, agriculture, renewable energy, water protection such as cesspool replacement, health care system improvements, and more.

There’s an opportunity to think creatively about better ways to structure parts of our economy and infrastructure and seek funding to implement those ideas.

As a community, I believe we need to work together across sectors to prioritize our needs so we don’t miss out on opportunities. We need to have projects that are “shovel ready.”

Hawai‘i Community College certainly has a role to play in this as we help train the people who will be essential for executing these plans.

Many of our existing programs are well-equipped to do this. We also recognize it may be necessary to bring in new programs while continuing to update our existing ones. (You may view our academic programs at

One example of a project that could boost local industries while protecting the environment stems from the need to replace the approximately 88,000 cesspools across the state to protect groundwater and the nearshore environment.

The state passed Act 125 in 2017 to accomplish this, but the process is expensive, lengthy and multifaceted. Launching this effort with the help of federal funds could create jobs while protecting health and water resources. There are many other projects and sectors that could similarly help us recover and be more resilient in the future.

Nearly 600 Hawaii Community College students graduated this year with degrees and certificates. Congratulations to these graduates and their families. They have prepared themselves to better withstand economic shocks as college graduates generally fare better during economic downturns.

In addition, they are better equipped to help build the resilient community that we need.

So, this is a collective call to action to our recent graduates, alumni and all members of our community to work together and adapt to the new economy so that our recovery is quick, effective and we come out of this crisis stronger than ever.