Business Wrap: Unemployment Down, Local Companies Expanding

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Taking a look at several recent business announcements across the Big Island, there are positive signs that the economy is improving.

From restaurants to aquaculture to farming, several businesses are opening or expanding – all good signs that the local economy is picking up steam. Here’s a look at business happenings around the Big Island this week.


Big Island Unemployment Claims Continue Downward Trend

According to the latest data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, initial unemployment claims around the state declined by 3% last week.

There were 1,629 initial jobless claims filed during the week ending September 8, which was 3.4% fewer than the 1,686 claims filed during the same week a year ago.


On the Big Island, initial jobless claims were down 5.8%, with 322 claims filed, compared to the 342 claims filed last year.


Big Island Abalone Plans to Double in Size at NELHA

The owners of Big Island Abalone Corp. are in negotiations to nearly double its Kona operations at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park, which is administered by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

By nearly doubling the size of their operations from 10 to 20 acres, the company hopes to expand its algae and abalone production.


Big Island Abalone has a current inventory of 2 million abalone and supplies upscale markets here in Hawaii, as well as the mainland US, and Japan.


Kamehameha Schools Creating Agriculture Park in Punalu‘u

Kamehameha Schools is expanding food production on its vast land holdings with the creation of an agricultural park in Punalu‘u called Punalu‘u Ahupua‘a Farms.

Plots of land ranging from two to ten acres will be available for rent.


Kamehameha Schools, which is the largest private landowner in the state, said the effort is part of a plan to improve management of its agricultural property holdings.


Rays on the Bay Opens in Keauhou

Rays on the Bay has opened at the newly renamed Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa in Keauhou. Part of the hotel’s recent $16 million renovation, the restaurant boasts panoramic ocean views and evening views of manta rays feeding as they swim in the ocean.

The restaurant encompasses three terraced levels with seating for 216 plus a Rum Bar with seating for 22. Executive Chef Viktor Schmidt went to great lengths to create a menu reflecting Hawaii’s multi-ethnic population.

The restaurant offers complimentary valet service and nightly live entertainment. Dinner service is from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. daily.

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