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Hirono Hosts U.S. Small Business Administrator for Tour of Oahu Small Business Centers

HONOLULU, HI – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Small Business Committee, hosted U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Guzman for a tour of organizations supporting small businesses and small businesses on Oahu. During the day-long event, Senator Hirono and Administrator Guzman visited centers focused on promoting Native Hawaiian and women-owned small businesses, as well as small- and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. The day-long tour is part of Hirono’s ongoing effort to support Hawaii’s small businesses as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the tour, Senator Hirono and Administrator Guzman highlighted how the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will open up historic opportunities for small businesses and innovative startups here in Hawaii through historic investments.

“Small businesses are an essential part of Hawaii’s economy, and I applaud them for their resiliency throughout the pandemic. I’m proud to have worked to secure billions in federal funding to help small businesses weather and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Hirono. “I appreciated the opportunity to welcome Administrator Guzman to Hawaii to show her the innovative programs and initiatives taking place across our state to support small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those from historically underserved communities. With help from federal programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as other support from the Small Businesses Administration, Hawaii’s small businesses are in a strong position to continue serving our communities and our state for years to come. I also fought hard to pass the Inflation Reduction Act—which was recently signed into law—in order to not only lower costs for families, but also to support small businesses and innovative startups, while combatting climate change.”

"Hard work and resilience are deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture, and the small businesses here have truly demonstrated those qualities as they’ve met challenges, pivoted, innovated, and thrived. Small businesses help fuel our economy and create jobs, and I’m proud to partner with Senator Hirono to work with business owners, resource partners,  and local leaders so we can continue to support Native Hawaiian small businesses and women and veteran entrepreneurs and help them access the capital and resources they need to succeed," said Administrator Guzman. "President Biden has set a tone for this Administration that we will put equity at the heart of everything we do. Advancing equity and access to resources and affordable capital for small business owners is a top priority at SBA. And with landmark new policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, small businesses will be even more prepared to seize new opportunities and continue leading the way in our economic recovery now and into the future."

The officials started their day meeting with the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association (NHOA), a trade association established to provide a unified voice for Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs). NHOs provide economic benefits to the State of Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian community by developing job opportunities, building the capacity of innovative industries, and supporting important social and economic programs. Photos of that meeting can be found here.

They then visited the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL), which was established by YWCA Oahu, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a community of partners to become the only Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Hawaii. WBCs are SBA resource partners designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses, and seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs who still face unique obstacles in the business world. During the visit, they also met with Hawaii SBDC, which provides business counseling and related services to Hawaii small businesses on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island. Photos of that visit can be found here.

Following that visit, Senator Hirono and Administrator Guzman toured the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation’s (HTDC) Entrepreneurs Sandbox, a community center for innovators of all ages. The Entrepreneurs Sandbox encourages creativity, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship and features a collaboration and event area ideal for town hall meetings and community gatherings, digital media studio, coworking space, meeting rooms, and a few small offices. Photos from that tour can be found here.

Afterwards, they visited Iolani Palace before ending their day with a visit to Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii Kai, which received more than $15 million in federal relief funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to keep approximately 500 employees on payroll. Photos of those visits can be found here and here.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Hirono has worked to secure federal support for Hawaii’s small businesses and nonprofits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—including through new programs like the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Since the beginning of the pandemic, PPP has provided nearly $800 billion in forgivable loans to 11.8 million businesses and nonprofits in the United States, including $3.8 billion to 45,000 businesses and nonprofits in Hawaii—providing a lifeline for companies across the state. RRF has provided $28.5 billion in grants to 101,000 businesses, including $414.4 million in grants to 1,100 Hawaii businesses.