Aloha! There is an old saying in Hawaii:“I kukamakemake e hele mai, hele no me kamalo`elo`e,” which means “If the wish to come arises, walk firmly.” Roughly this means, if you’re thinking of going to Hawaii to open a business, do not hesitate, for you are welcome. Honolulu, Hawaii’s state capital, is the gateway to the islands of Hawaii and is situated on the island of Oahu. A major hub for international business as well as a home to many diverse cultures, Honolulu also boasts office buildings that are in the financial, commercial, and governmental center of Hawaii.
Honolulu, which means “sheltered harbor,”attracts $10 billion in tourist dollars every year. In addition to the booming tourist trade, its location in the Pacific makes Honolulu a perfect trading hub between the East and West. Military defense, research and development, and manufacturing also contribute to the city’s economy. Recent news relevant to small business in Hawaii includes:
- In addition to the new tax laws that will take effect in 2015, Hawaiian small businesses will benefit from a reduction in the state’s payroll tax by 22 percent.
- A new, protected bike lane along King Street through downtown could mean more foot traffic for the businesses located nearby.
- According to QMark Research, local businesses are optimistic about the outlook for Hawaii’s economy, with 42 percent saying the economy will improve in 2015.
Honolulu County is made up of several distinctive districts, including Waikiki, which is the tourist center of Hawaii with white sand beaches and many high-rise hotels. The Manoa-Makiki area is located in the foothills north of downtown and is home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl crater, and the Koolau Mountains behind the city. Eastern Honolulu is mostly residential, as is western Honolulu, although the airport, the Bishop Museum, and the military memorials of Pearl Harbor are located in western Honolulu.
Downtown Honolulu is the historic heart of the city, and home to the state capitol, the harbor front, museum, and the commercial center. Honolulu's Chinatown is also located downtown and is populated with many Chinese restaurants, businesses, and an open-air market. In addition, Chinatown is now a center for the arts in Honolulu.
The Central Business District has the most skyscrapers in the area. It is centered around Bishop Street and the Fort Street Mall, a pedestrian walkway down the middle of downtown Honolulu.
One of the biggest changes about moving your business to Hawaii is the perception that people move at a slower pace, or “Hawaiian time.” Although this cliché is obviously largely exaggerated, the truth is that in such a beautiful place, even busy small business owners stop and take time to appreciate their surroundings. Mahalo!
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