Strategy for Economic Prosperity

Community Contributed

By Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Maui County Council, Molokai

The county is in the midst of updating its fourth Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), “an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies,” for publication later this year.  

This update occurs every five years, as a result of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Reauthorization Act of 2004. Maui County has completed three CEDS, in 2004, 2010 and 2016. 

The CEDS is intended to create a local-based strategy for economic development and an environment for economic prosperity and resilience. 

Maui County has historically contracted the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) who achieved the objective of completing the required analysis and report by working with a network of connected businesses, suppliers and associates in specific fields that are all located in the same geographical area. This is referred to as a “cluster-based process,” as is required by federal law.

The 2016 CEDS was led by a strategy committee that identified the main economic clusters in Maui County driving the economy as agriculture; construction; creative industries; energy; health and wellness; science, technology and innovation; sports and recreation; and visitor industry. 

In addition, geographical clusters for Hana, Lanai and Molokai were identified, recognizing that economic priorities in these communities are unique.

After recently becoming acquainted with the CEDS, the Tourism Management and Economic Development Temporary Investigative Group discussed it as a useful resource for developing a legislative approach that will best support our county’s economic strategy. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, since the council has been diligently focused on managing tourism, while simultaneously working to diversify our economy.  

Regions are mandated to update their CEDS to qualify for EDA assistance under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. 

The federal guidance underscores the need to think beyond traditional job creation and embrace capacity building and broad-based wealth creation when developing goals, measurable objectives, actions and performance measures. 

These requirements  also highlight the need to undertake an asset-based approach. Efforts that focus on the strengths of a community, while considering the interdependencies between regional economic prosperity and other topics such as job-driven workforce development, natural resource management and development and sustainable land use. 

On Jan. 26, I invited MEDB to the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting to present on the CEDS while it is being updated. (Meeting link: tinyurl.com/CEDSmeeting.) At that meeting, I requested that in addition to the required SWOT Analysis, SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound) goals be included as well to update a more actionable CEDS. 

The MEDB will be convening diverse community-based focus groups in the next few months to garner well-rounded input and inform cluster-based strategies.  Please contact me via email at keani.rawlins@mauicounty.us if you would like to be more involved.

Keani Rawlins-Fernandez is vice chair of the Maui County Council and chairs the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee. She holds the County Council seat for the Molokai residency area.


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