Cate, Oshima Garner Statewide SBA Honors
by Dave Smith
Several Big Island business people recently were honored for being tops in their field statewide by the US Small Business Administration.
Constance Cate, director of the East Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network, was named Hawaii’s Home-based Business Champion.
The SBA also gave Susumu Oshima, head of Oshima Brothers Store in Kainaliu, Hawaii’s Family Owned Small Business Award.
The East Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network, a cooperative agreement between the SBA and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, provides consulting, training and other support for small business owners who operate from their homes on the windward side of the Big Island.
Cate said there has been no shortage of people needing the center’s assistance, especially since the economic downturn took hold.
Many found themselves out of a job and looking to start new careers. She said often they don’t have the money – or sometimes the need – to work out of a conventional storefront.
“Perhaps they have the technical skill, but might not know the business end,” Cate said.
That’s where the center located at 100 Pauahi St. in Hilo comes in by helping them, for example, to formulate a business plan.
“I help them determine the feasibility of the business,” she said.
Cate said their stories are often inspiring, and their plans very creative.
“I have to hand it to all of these brave people who go to work for themselves,” she said.
On the other side of the island, at 85 years old, Susumu Oshima has been around as long as the family business, and remains active in its operation.
Oshima took over the business after he left the Army in January 1947.
Previously known as Oshima Dry Goods, the store has expanded recently and now carries a wide assortment of surfing accessories.
Competing with big box stores like Costco, K-Mart and others hasn’t been easy, but Oshima Brothers Store has managed by providing its clientele with exactly what they want, Oshima said.
“We’ve continued the same way,” he said.
Oshima said he couldn’t have done it without the support of his family and customers.
“I want to thank everybody for their help,” he said.
Another Big Island business person singled out recently by the SBA was William “Bill” Dwyer, president of Kona Mountain Coffee, who was named Small Business Person of the Year for Hawaii County.