Welcome to the Digital Economy in Hawaii

“A digital economy is an economy that is based on electronic goods and services produced by an electronic business and traded through electronic commerce. That is, a business with electronic production and management processes and that interacts with its partners and customers and conducts transactions through Internet and Web technologies.”


Most of Hawaii’s political leaders, educators, businessperson and really just about everyone in a position to further Hawaii’s Digital Economy during the last 15 years has quietly failed to embrace a digital economy. They continue to fail miserably by not teaching teachers, building alternate schools or providing business with the tools they need to educate a digital workforce.

It is basically up to you as parents or students to learn how to proceed from here.

Leadership on Hawaii Island has left folks on the grids with a two-day supply buffer should anything interrupt the flow of fossil fuels to the island. Unfortunately by tying our water, food, energy and therefore everything other cost of non-digital good to the price of oil, we now rely on tourists for our economy.

“To restart long-term growth, Hawaii’s economy needed tobegin a structural transition from an aging, sun-and-surf tourist destination to a diversifiedand technology-savvy economy for the 21st century.”

-Benjamin J. Cayetano Hawaii Governor 1994 to 2002

Years of amoral and short-sighted economic decision making with solutions readily available have landed us right here. There is no indication of improvement on behalf of the folks you have elected into office to do better. Your have set your collective sights on the exact same trajectory as you did ten years ago. You were tricked into believing fifteen telescopes would help the economy. You were tricked into believing road and bridge construction would help the economy. You invested in a future of Unionization and good ol’ boy tourism schemes and taxes. So while things remained the same since statehood, one thing has changed. Everything else.

The global economy kept moving forward while local and state leaders remained incapable of understanding or acting on the facts. They mistreated your future. The future of 15 years ago is today.

The top ten GDPs invested in new education models, faster internet connections and successfully switched to knowledge-based economies. You off-shored all that digital mumbo-jumbo to India and other countries that struggled at first but the readily accepted your economic ass on a silver platter. No where in the U.S. is there more opportunity to embrace a digital economy than Hawaii. In fact, ten years all the fastest information pipes in the world were flowing through Hawaii. Now they’re built out in the North Pacific. This will be felt everywhere but mostly in rural areas in the coming years. Hawaii is naturally cut off from analog trade routes. Only digital goods and services move frictionlessly in and out of Hawaii.  As traditional economies continue to fail the “Cubanization of Hawaii” will continue. Just as Cuba was left behind in the 60’s when cut off from the U.S. economy, we have now cut ourselves off from the global economy. As such it will be much easier for current leadership to ignore just as Castro ignored the needs of Cubans. Only an ignoramus would wish Cuba’s economy for Hawaii.

But we have what Cuba doesn’t. First, no trade embargo. This means we can still sell the top of the mountains, the bottoms of the valleys and the shoreline. On Hawaii Island we have plenty land so politicians can sell land for generations to come without losing a single election. Call this Kalifornication.

Next we have water. Billions of gallons of tap water. Soon, politicians will be able to sell your water rights to Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina). This will be worth billions since these companies will have a virtually unlimited supply with nearby markets along the Pacific Rim. So now you know why there’s no sense of urgency to use the Internet to create a strong local economy based on digital technologies. Raising only a single generation of knowledge workers here on Hawaii Island could change everything.

Imagine a generation of educated voters capable of earning their income online. Imagine a generation of workers that didn’t rely on politician’s food stamps and housing subsidies. Imagine a generation that didn’t rely on kooky school programs for their knowledge or ability to get a job. Imagine a generation of educated voters that decided not to sell Hawaiian Land to pay for County and State worker salaries. You can build whatever economy you want Hawaii. You can build more hotels, airports and roads. You can build factories, telescopes and refineries. Whatever.

Just know that the old way of doing things, as beautiful as they are and always will be You don’t have to build anything Just know that you can also learn to use wireless technologies to create an economy capable of competiting with any country in the world.   to teach an entire generation to harness a frictionless, digital economy to bring more dollars in. Sure the old saying, “Buy Local” had it’s glory days. Today we need to say, “Earn Global” and then we can safely buy local as dollars flow into the economy instead of just the politician’s pockets.


Also Read:
Hawaii’s Growth Strategy Focuses on Technology, New Economy

Earlier this month, Governor Ben Cayetano released The New Millenium Growth Strategy for Hawaii’s Economy, an economic development plan to improve the state’s performance in a knowledge-based economy. The 90-page report, penned by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, includes several new initiatives for developing and growing technology businesses as well as strengthening existing economic development efforts.

The plan hopes to have “high-tech activities permeate all sectors of Hawaii’s economy.” As a result, separate sections are dedicated to discussing technology-based approaches to building a stronger economy through high technology, information technology, biotechnology, defense and dual-use technology, health care, resource development, environment, and tourism. The plan also identifies and addresses proposals for workforce training and infrastructure capacity needs for a technology-based economy.

New initiatives in the plan include:

  • In venture capital for high-tech, establishment of a $50 million Hawaii Technology Fund drawn from proceeds of the state’s investment in Digital Island, a global corporation incubated at the Manoa Innovation Center, with a proposed Employees’ Retirement System investment.

  • In engineering and telecommunications, a $1 million grant to the University of Hawaii College of Engineering for an Hawaii Wireless Communication Center.

  • In human resource and workforce development, a $1 million grant to the community colleges’ Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training, and a $1 million investment in the Hawaii Networked Learning Communities Program.

  • In the Asia-Pacific business arena, a $1 million grant to the UH College of Business Administration’s proposal for an Asia-Pacific Center for E-Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

  • In biotechnology and biomedical research, a $1 million grant to the University of Hawaii Medical School for an Asia-Pacific Center of Medical Biosciences.

Most of the plan’s proposals have been included in legislation introduced during the current session of the Hawaii legislature. More information, including link to the plan can be found at: http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/news/0008.html