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Lingle Focuses On Molokai Ranch Employees, Island’s Economy

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today outlined steps the State Administration is taking to assist 120 displaced workers on Moloka‘i following the announcement by Moloka‘i Ranch that it will cease its operations at the end of this month.  


“My immediate concern is for the 120 employees and their families who will be affected by this closure,” said Governor Lingle.  “My office and several state departments are working together to assist the employees in the short-term, while minimizing the long-term economic impact.


“Because of Moloka‘i’s small population, the closure of one of the island’s largest private employers will have a disproportionate impact on the island’s economy,” said the Governor.  “The loss of this many jobs in such a small community like Moloka‘i is equivalent to 23,000 people on O‘ahu losing their jobs on the same day.”


“It is unfortunate that after working with the community and state and local government on developing its master plan for so long, Moloka‘i Ranch is unable to continue its operations,” said Governor Lingle. The company has stated that its net loss from 2001 to 2006 has been approximately $37 million.  “Through all of this, the employees worked hard and made sacrifices.  We want to do everything we can to help the employees and the Moloka‘i community.”


On Thursday, state officials will travel to Moloka‘i to meet with the employees to provide information on what type of assistance is available.  The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DLIR) Rapid Response Team, accompanied by officials from the Department of Human Services (DHS), will hold two meetings, at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., to provide employees with information on unemployment insurance, job training and placement and medical benefits.  The meetings will take place at the Moanaloa Tri-Plex theatre.


DLIR Director Darwin Ching will lead the meeting, which will also include presentations by the administrator of the Unemployment Insurance Division who will explain the process and timeline for filing claims, as well as the administrator of the Workforce Development Division.  Branch managers of the Maui Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Development divisions, as well as staff from DLIR’s Moloka‘i office will also be on hand to assist the employees.

In addition, representatives from the DHS will provide information and help employees determine if and when they are eligible for medical benefits, including QUEST, QUEST Ace and Medicaid.  


Over the next few weeks, the Rapid Response Team will survey workers to evaluate their job skills and determine how many people need training and what type of job placement assistance is required.  Officials are also reaching out to businesses on Maui and Moloka‘i to identify potential job opportunities for workers who are willing to move or commute.  The team will also work with the Department of Human Services First-to-Work office on Moloka‘i to provide direct employment assistance and the support services necessary to find employment.

Governor Lingle also announced she would convene a Moloka‘i Action Team, comprised of state, county and community representatives to identify additional opportunities to assist the displaced workers in the short-term, while also focusing on ways to rebuild the island’s workforce base.  


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