"Enormous potential exists for the high technology industry in Maui due to the intellectually stimulating atmosphere created by Maui's beauty and lifestyle, Hawaii's vast and growing high-technology support infrastructure, and the state's geographic position, making it a natural portal between the US and Asian high technology markets,"
Lynn Gordon Butterfield, Chief Operations Officer of the Wayne Brown Institute.
(a non-profit venture capital resource)
Maui Economic Development Board
Since it was founded in 1982, an important part of the Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) mission has been to diversify the economy and assisting in the development of the technology sector has been a key strategy in this effort. Through its extensive reach to businesses, government, and its work in education and workforce development, MEDB seeks to realize its vision:
“A future in which abundant opportunities for rewarding employment are met by a qualified, resident workforce in Maui County, a community which honors its cultural heritage and natural environment.”

MEDB Rooftop PV System
Rooftop PV array, MEDB Ke Alahele Building, Kihei, Maui
MEDB is located in the 330-acre Maui Research & Technology Park in Kihei, where it has played an important role in the development and growth of both large and small businesses, including providing incubation space for a number of start-ups. The Research and Technology Park is the hub of Maui’s scientific and technical community, home of the Maui Research & Technology Center incubation facility, Maui High Performance Computer Center, and a host of companies and programs engaged in research and development. The Park also benefits from Foreign Trade Zone status and a high-speed OC 48 commercial fiber infrastructure, which creates a supportive environment.

MEDB’s success in implementing its technology-oriented strategy is reflected in a recent report, Innovation and Technology in Hawaii: An Economic and Workforce Profile, published in October 2008 by The Hawaii Science & Technology Institute (HISciTech) and prepared for The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness. The report confirms that Maui County has the most private sector technology-related jobs among the Neighbor Islands, after Oahu. MEDB estimates show that employment in the sector grew from less than 500 in the early 1980s to about 1,900 in 2007. HISciTech estimates that more than 1,500 indirect, non-tech jobs were also generated by the tech sector, in supplier companies and service providers, for example. HISciTech further identifies more than 160 technology companies in Maui County in 2007, and estimates that the tech sector represented almost 2 percent of Maui’s total employment in 2007. This number grew by 3.7 percent annually between 2002 and 2007, faster than the statewide annual average of 2.5 percent. In 2007, an estimated $106.4 million was contributed by the technology sector to the Maui economy, about 2.7 percent of the County’s total earnings. On average, private sector technology employees earned $56,443 in 2007, a level 47 percent greater than the County average.

Among private sector technology workers in 2007, the largest segments were employed in the Information and Communications Technology area and the Defense/Aerospace industries. Among major employers in these areas are Akimeka, Boeing, Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC), Oceanit, Pacific Defense Solutions (PDS) and the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC). In order of ranking by employee numbers, the other most significant technology segments are Engineering and Professional Services, Environmental Remediation and Consulting Services, Agricultural Biotechnology, Ocean Sciences, Renewable Energy, Biotechnology, Digital Media, and Astronomy. Since these data were assembled in 2007, employee numbers have proved resilient, according to State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) data, and renewable energy and information systems in particular have continued to be the fastest growing segments of the technology sector.

Kaheawa Wind Farm
Kaheawa Wind Farm, Above Ma'alaea, Maui
Among the companies in the renewable energy sector with which MEDB has established and developed relationships are FirstWind, HNu Photonics and HNu Energy, Pacific Biodiesel, Westec (formerly Peletex), OceanLinx, and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S). FirstWind’s facility on the spine of the West Maui Mountains overlooking Ma’alaea provides an average of 10 percent of MECO’s electricity generation, and up to 30 percent at peak times. Proposed wind farms in are in the planning stages at Ulupalakaua and a second phase at Ma’alaea. “Big Wind” facilities, of 200 megawatts each, have been proposed by the State for Lanai and Molokai, linked by undersea cable to Oahu, and a programmatic EIS process is currently underway. Pacific Biodiesel established one of the first commercial biodiesel production facilities in the country in response to the large quantities of waste oil at the Maui landfill, and it now produces over 200,000 gallons of biodiesel each year. HNu has created several patents for solar related technology and is operating in multiple commercial markets such as optical instrumentation, laser beam technology, miscroscopy, etc.

MEDB’s specific programs relating to technology include:

High Tech Maui (HTM)
MEDB’s HTM program has been a driving force in attracting technology business to Maui and helping retain businesses through networking, leveraging existing relationships, creating partnerships, attending industry events, offering individualized consultation, and running workshops. In 2010, HTM assisted more than 250 entities and individuals in setting up, expanding, or consolidating their presence in Maui County. Examples of events facilitated by HTM include a Federal Contracting workshop, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) workshop, attendance at events such as the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo, the National Space Symposium, and the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo. HTM has also presented a series of Social Media workshops aimed at improving business reach.

Through HTM, MEDB is a sub-recipient to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the Defense Logistics Agency as a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) primarily for outreach in Hawaii’s Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) in Maui County, as well as the Big Island and Kauai. MEDB also currently has a sub-contract with the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR) funded by the Department of Energy for outreach activities for the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture on Maui. Through these programs MEDB has helped with procurement activity resulting in contracts for over $7million for businesses located in Maui County. For more information please visit the website.

Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Conference (AMOS)
AMOS Conference
AMOS Conference, September 2010, Wailea, Maui
MEDB owns and hosts the annual AMOS Conference, the premier event in the nation devoted to space surveillance. The cross-section of military, contractor, and academic participation in the field of space situational awareness is unmatched by any other conference in the world. In 2010, the AMOS conference attracted over 640 scientists, engineers, and technical specialists from around the globe. The event generated over 3,300 room nights with expenditures resulting in over $1.2 for island businesses.

“Our pursuit of a high-tech industry on Maui has as its underpinnings the optical and technical assets that have existed here for more than 40 years.”
– Sandy Ryan, AMOS Project Director, MEDB

Conference topics in 2010 included telescopes and cameras, imaging methods, adaptive optics, space object identification, and astrodynamics. The technical proceedings of the AMOS conference are archived in the Library of Congress. MEDB is currently preparing for the 12th annual AMOS conference, and in doing so, is continuing its collaborative partnership with the Space Foundation. For more information please visit the website.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education and Workforce Development
Through MEDB’s Women in Technology (WIT) program, Maui County’s education to workforce pipeline is developed and strengthened by encouraging girls, women and other underrepresented groups into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. The County of Maui’s investment in STEM education and workforce development, dating back to the establishment of WIT in 1999, has succeeded in leveraging a Federal portfolio of funding through grants from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Agriculture and Education, as well as private funding. The goal of MEDB’s STEM initiatives is to prepare residents to compete for 21st century careers by improving Maui County’s capacity to educate, train, and provide skill-based experiences, and to improve the quality of life for women by encouraging them to enter higher-paying technology occupations. WIT successfully creates systemic change by building awareness among educators and employers of the return on investment in recruiting and retaining a diverse and inclusive skilled technical workforce that is homegrown.

Women In Tech
Since its inception, WIT has piloted and grown a number of programs such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Excite Camp for Native Hawaiian Girls, Tech Careers Day, Island Energy Inquiry, STEMworks, and many others reaching over 20,000 participants each school year. In addition, WIT provides programs for educators in hopes of having a more long term sustainable impact on education in Hawaii. Programs range from annual inquiry science workshops for teachers to curriculum development projects that offer science curriculum aligned to Hawaii content area standards for math and science. Over 400 educators are reached each year, and all programs have gender equity and cultural diversity components integrated into them.

According to the latest national studies, women represent the largest under-utilized national resource of great potential in science and technology. Data suggests that in order to maintain the present number of scientists and engineers in the U.S., however, enrollment and retention of women and ethnic minorities in these fields must rise from a total of less than 25% to 75% in the next 40 years. The WIT project was developed to address this workforce development need. U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye has been instrumental in supporting the Project, stressing that every member of our workforce, especially women, should be encouraged to reach their full potential, so Hawaii can keep pace with the changing technological landscape. Successful pilot outcomes are gaining national recognition, with numerous communities adopting WIT best practices. For more information please visit the website.

Ke Alahele Education Fund
Akimeka Digital Bus
The Digital Bus is one of the MEDB
Ke Alahele Education Fund recipients

In 2006, MEDB founded the Ke Alahele (“The Pathway”) Education Fund to further strengthen the STEM pipeline. The Fund awards grants of up to $5,000 to schools, educators, organizations focused on STEM education, and students for projects involving innovative curriculum, integrations of science and culture, equipment to enhance STEM activity (for example, robotics), internships, apprenticeships, and scholarships. Through an annual fundraising benefit event showcasing STEM projects funded in Maui County schools, the Ke Alahele Fund stimulates community investment in broadening career pathways for our residents. To date, over $420,000 has been awarded to help educators and students expand skills in STEM fields and in 2010-2011, 26 individual projects were funded. For more information please visit the website.

Research and Analysis
MEDB’s research and analysis program gathers and delivers information on Maui County economic issues that promote informed decision-making, and recent work has directly impacted the renewable energy technology sector. In November 2007, the Maui County Energy Expo, “Green Power, Green Future” was held as a forum to review sustainable and renewable energy options for Maui County. The Expo took the form of a two-day conference presented by the County’s Office of Economic Development in partnership with Maui Economic Development Board. The event brought together businesses, government, community development organizations and members of the general public – stakeholders in advancing the development of a green future for Maui County. The Energy Expo identified significant challenges and opportunities for implementing renewable energy policies in Maui County. Following the lead of the County, strategic next steps were discussed so that the promising concepts discussed at the event might be translated into practice.

The Maui County Energy Alliance (MCEA) was launched in May 2008 and 5 Working Groups established, charged with the development of a coordinated Energy Action Plan. The Working Groups were comprised of all-volunteer experts, specialists and interested parties with the goal of realizing the vision of a renewable energy future for Maui in the following areas: Renewable Energy Resource Development; Green Workforce Development and Education; Energy and Transportation Infrastructure; Energy Efficiency and Conservation; and Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Emissions. The Working Groups, together with the MEDB Research and Analysis program, drafted an action plan for Maui County, resulting in the Maui County Energy Alliance report, Sustainable Energy: Strategies for Implementation: recommendations from the Working Groups.

This 136-page report formed the basis for the Second Energy Expo held in September 2009, which was presented and funded by the County of Maui.

For more information on MEDB and its programs

Maui Economic Development Board