Business Wrap: Verizon Expands 4G Network; Flower Sales Down

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It was a mixed bag of business news this week. One of the highlights was the news that Hawaii’s unemployment rate dropped below 6% for the first time in nearly four years.

New business ventures are popping up across the island. Food Network Star finalist Ippy Aiona officially announced the launch of his new restaurant. And a new gun shop opened this week in Hilo (see story below).

But not everyone is smiling. According to a report released this week by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, sales of flowers and nursery plants grown in Hawaii recently hit a 14-year low (see story below).

Verizon Expands 4G Coverage Across Big Island

Verizon Wireless expanded its 4G LTE coverage across many parts of the Big Island on October 18. The 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network enables customers to surf the internet, stream music and video with speeds up to 10 times faster than the 3G network.

The faster service is now available in Captain Cook, Glenwood, Hilo, Honokohau, Kailua-Kona, Keaau, Kealakekua, Keauhou, Mountain View, Pahoa, Papaikou, Pepeekeo, Volcano, Waikoloa, Waikoloa Village, and the South Kohala resorts including Hilton, Marriott, Mauna Lani, and Hapuna.

Verizon Wireless chief technical officer, Nicola Palmer, noted in a statement yesterday that 35% of Verizon Wireless’ mobile data traffic is now on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.


With its expansion on the Big Island, Verizon’s 4G LTE network is now available in 417 markets across the country.


Two New Managers Announced at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa

Pyramid Hotel Group announced this week that it has appointed two senior managers at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Schack von Rumohr is now the director of operations and Vincent Robinson has been selected as director of food and beverage at the 22-acre oceanfront resort.

Von Rumohr began his career studying and working in culinary arts in Germany. He moved to the United States and worked with Hyatt Hotels for 10 years, working his way up to manager. Von Rumohr has subsequently worked for Starwood, Wyndham, Marriott, and Hilton hotels in Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean.

Raised on Kauai, Food and Beverage Director Vincent Robinson began his foray in hospitality as a busboy at the Kauai Hilton & Beach Villas. After attending the University of San Diego and University of Hawaii, he spent two decades working at various upscale resorts and most recently, was assistant director of food and beverage at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oahu.



Gun store opens in Hilo

Husband and wide Ilan and Michelle are launching NP Firearms on Kalakaua Street in Hilo. The 800-square-foot gun shop, which is scheduled to open any day, will carry a wide range of guns and ammunition.

The opening of NP Firearms and a similar store, Stueb’s Guns and Ammo, which opened two months ago in Hilo, are seen as a response in part to the national and local trend of increased gun permits issued in recent years.


Flower Sales Down

According to a report released this week by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, sales of flowers and nursery plants grown in Hawaii recently hit a 14-year low.


Nursery plant and flower farms reported sales of $69.6 million last year, down 2% from $71.1 million the year before. Although last year’s decrease may seem small, it marked the fourth consecutive year of declines.

Overall, the five biggest crops by sales volume in the category last year were potted palms ($3.7 million), potted dendrobium ($3.4 million), potted dracaena ($3.2 million), cut anthurium ($3.1 million), and cut dendrobium ($1.6 million).

The statistics service said dry weather, vog, high costs and slow market conditions are prompting farmers to adjust business plans and products to boost income.



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