SBA Awards $450,000 to Hawai‘i Export ProgramSeptember 25, 2018, 10:24 AM HST (Updated September 25, 2018, 10:24 AM)
The U.S. Small Business Administration will provide $450,000 for the continuation of the Hawai‘i State Trade Export Program (HiSTEP).
Under the tag “Buy Hawaii, Give Aloha,” this program provides training, grants and trade shows for companies looking to start exporting or increase their exports.
“With the help of this program, we’ve seen our export of Hawai‘i-made products increase substantially overseas,” said Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism Director Luis P. Salaveria. “The Hawai‘i brand continues to be iconic. We have significantly increased Hawai‘i-made products, especially in Japan, where we have participated in several high-profile events.”
An example of the effectiveness of the HiSTEP program, 80 companies just participated in the 2018 Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS). This year marked the seventh consecutive year that DBEDT organized a Hawai‘i Pavilion at TIGS, which was held Sept. 4 to 7, 2018, at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight).
This year, DBEDT recruited 80 Hawai‘i companies to fill 38 booths and a café section, which made up the Hawai‘i Pavilion. In addition, show organizers awarded DBEDT’s Hawai‘i Pavilion with the Best in Show award.
“The value of the Hawai‘i brand is priceless in the global economy, and expansion of the state’s trade sector will diversify and grow our local economy,” explained Salaveria. “Through events such as TIGS, Hawai‘i’s products are showcased around the world and have received international recognition for its quality and uniqueness.”
Sen. Brian Taniguchi joined DBEDT at TIGS and shared his impressions.
“It was exciting to meet all the vendors and see all the Hawai‘i-made products,” Sen. Taniguchi said. “This is what we need to do in Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Pavilion at the Tokyo International Gift Show was huge and very impressive.”
“We are excited to see the Hawai‘i Pavilion grow each year in size and number of local companies exhibiting,” said Dennis Ling, administrator of DBEDT’s Business Development and Support Division. “The Hawai‘i brand is becoming more established and recognized for quality and authenticity, which is reflected in the dramatic increase in our sales in the Japan market.”
Some of the participating vendors shared their thoughts about TIGS:
Shawn Mawae, Hawaii Coffee Company, Kailua-Kona: “It’s such a good experience, and it’s been amazing to share what we have with the world. We’ve been able to meet a lot of people and network. This will only help to grow our brand all over Japan.”
Keoki Tavares, Aloha Elixir, O‘ahu: “This is the second year participating in the gift show. It’s a lot of fun and an amazing opportunity to expand our locally made products, which are made with intentions of love and aloha, to the rest of the world.”
Brian Kodama, Two Palms, O‘ahu: “We love it. We’ve participating in this gift show for the past 7 years, and we are always finding new customers and gaining new exposure of our products.”
Satomi Goo, Tea Chest Hawaii, O‘ahu: “We have new customers and products, and this is a great show to introduce our line and receive feedback.”
Edward Sugimoto, VH07V, O‘ahu: “Hawai‘i loves Japan, and Japan loves Hawai‘i, so it’s been great to bring the Aloha Spirit to the gift show.
In part, as a result of dollar amount of exports achieved at TIGS, this year’s exhibitors are expected top $10 million in export sales.
TIGS is the largest international trade show in Japan, drawing 200,000 buyers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to meet exhibitors at more than 4,500 booths spread out over the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition area.