Letters | 7-19-13


Business costs

High costs not the only thing stymieing businesses in W. Hawaii

In response to a recent letter to the editor about the difficulties involved in starting and running a business in Hawaii. I take issue with the emphasis on the high costs involved in opening and running a business here. To emphasize the cost of electricity is short-sighted. Yes, we all pay an outrageous price for electricity and this does add to the costs of running a business. The truth is that the basic structure for doing business in West Hawaii is at fault.

One does not really want to pull back the curtain on the wizard of business in West Hawaii, but perhaps it must be done to give relief to the nature of doing business in West Hawaii. When did anyone not understand that the excise tax is severe and constraining. Electricity is not the only penalty one has to pay to do business here. One could blame the high rents, or the bifurcated nature of the business-scape.

When one pulls back the curtain one will find that there are the monopoly businesses and the small businesses who wait for the tourists to enter. They, the tourists, are a “one-and-done” customer amounting to the true nature of the economy, “pick-pocket economy.” For years, the flow of tourists, rich and poor, have been poured out of buses into stores, sold a trinket, and, then loaded back onto the bus. Nothing has changed.

When the flow stops businesses fail. The business in West Hawaii have been at the mercy of Oahu for the flow of tourists. The word from Oahu was one of distain and derision often amounting to a refusal to deal with businesses here, saying that they don’t pay their bills, or there is no business there worth the effort, etc. Some succeed against all odds. One works hard to establish a business here and the next thing you know there is a monopoly business gobbling up your customers. And, when they decide to leave there is nothing — no one to replace them and no one to start up a new enterprise.

You can not blame the economy at large for the loss of small businesses or the quality of the businesses, but you can blame the political climate and large businesses for the heavy burden put on small business in its effort to enter the area. There used to be in this “pick-pocket economy” with a steady flow of visitors to the area, but as it grew in number, the large hotels and shopping centers in Kohala with the aid of the governments in the islands took them away leaving a smaller number to be fleeced here in West Hawaii. Just listen to the shopkeepers who lick their chops when the ‘snow birds‘ arrive.

Robert Corsair

Kailua-Kona