Can startups make it big in Hawaii? Can new businesses succeed in attracting and retaining local talent? Governor David Ige believes it’s not only possible but essential to the healthy growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s economy. A combination of legislation, investment funding, and public-private partnerships is behind the push to create a technology innovation hub in Hawaii known as Startup Paradise.
It’s no secret that Hawaii’s college graduates often leave for lucrative job offers on the mainland that offer stability and growth potential. The governor admitted that when he graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in electrical engineering, 40 of his 41 job offers were from the mainland. The high cost of living in Hawaii is another factor making it more difficult for local companies to attract and retain job candidates. And while there are several incubators and accelerators such as XLR8UH, the GVS Transmedia Accelerator program, and Blue Startups making inroads in the startup arena, there is still a definite need for more infrastructure and support to help Hawaii’s new ventures thrive.
Seeing this need, the government has been working with local businesses and communities to create the Startup Paradise program. This technology hub will cater to Hawaii’s diverse industries in an effort to secure venture capital funding and create an environment where startups can attract and keep local entrepreneurs and job candidates. The recently created Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC) will also take steps to boost economic development in the sector. And a $30 million “innovation fund” introduced by Governor Ige is also in the works. Spread over five years, the fund would provide the financial support that startups and innovators need to get new businesses off the ground. Taken together, all of these programs and initiatives will make Hawaii a fertile environment for new businesses to take root, and will hopefully make it a contender when it comes to new venture headquarters.
Hawaii’s tech sector is already going strong, and with this increased emphasis on technology innovation, job growth in the area will continue to flourish. In fact, industries such as renewable energy, healthcare, and defense work are already making a strong showing in the state. And with Hawaii’s unemployment rate at its lowest level in a decade, hitting 2.7% this past spring, the state is poised for continued job growth. So what steps can you take to hit the ground running as a candidate?
If you’re already employed or have a work history, now is the time to polish up your resume and lineup references from your current or previous employers. Consider taking online courses or obtaining certifications to make your resume stand out from other candidate’s resumes. If you’re a recent college graduate, you’ll want to highlight technical coursework, business classes, and any extracurricular activities that would make you attractive to potential employers. And if you’ve been out of the job market for a while, explore coding boot camps or other industry training to refresh your skills. It’s also a great idea to begin networking through social events and LinkedIn.
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