BY HAWAII REPORTER

Aegis Missile Test Site Planned for Hawaii by 2013

Lockheed Martin will construct a land-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense test site in Hawaii, with initial testing of the capability to occur in 2013.

According to a report in Aviation Week and information from Lockheed Martin’s website, the system will provide an additional element of defense for Hawaii from North Korean threats.

“There will be an Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii,” James Sheridan, director of Lockheed’s Navy Aegis program told Aviation Week.

Lockheed reported on its site that it had received a contract from the Missile Defense Agency to adapt the sea-based Aegis system to land. The systems have been deployed on 25 ships worldwide, including 21 in the U.S. Navy.

“The Aegis Ashore system will be a land-based version of venerable missile defense system the U.S. Navy carries aboard its combat surface ships and is a main piece of the Obama administration’s ‘Phased Adaptive Approach’ to defending Europe against a ballistic missile attack,” said the site, which also noted the Aegis system will improve protection of Europe from ballistic missiles from countries such as Iran.

Aviation Week reported the Hawaii work is being planned to mirror other ballistic missile facilities here. Last year some of the Aegis shipboard testing was done in conjunction with the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.

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Hawaii Economic Forecast Calls for 2.7% GDP Growth This Year

The latest forecast from the University of Hawaii Economics Research Organization calls for the highest economic growth since 2005 as the state rebounds from a troublesome recession.

UHERO’s projects state gross domestic product will rise by 2.7 percent this year when inflation is factored in, with growth being driven by the start of work on Oahu’s rail transit system.

“Growth will extend beyond the tourism-linked sectors that were the sole beneficiaries of last year’s visitor industry rebound,” said the group’s latest forecast.

“Oahu rail transit will provide an important lift, helping move the ailing construction sector more rapidly back on track.”

The higher growth rate will be welcomed news for the state, which suffered through declines in gross domestic product in 2008 and 2009 and only grew at an inflation-adjusted rate of 1 percent in 2010.

The report notes there are downside risks to the forecast, including rail project delays, the possibility of higher energy prices and a rise in interest rates.

The forecast also projects a 3.4 percent increase in visitor arrivals, a 1.4 percent rise in jobs and unemployment falling to 6.0 percent from last year’s 6.6 percent.

Former City Council Candidates Say City Should Stop $2 Million Subsidy

Two former candidates for City Council, Bob McDermott and Mathew LoPresti, are pressing for the city to end discounts granted Schnitzer Steel, claiming the state is subsidizing the company’s landfill dumping fees to the tune of $2 million annually.

“The hardworking families of this city who have provided upwards of $23 million in discounts since this outdated law was enacted deserve at least that much,” said LoPresti in a statement released with McDermott. “We are cutting vital city services, yet, we give Schnitzer a $2 Million dollar discount each year?

The claims arise out of discounts given to haulers of environmental waste. Critics claim Schnitzer gets more than 90 percent of the benefit.

Various supporters of Schnitzer have stepped forward to defend the discounts in the past, saying it helps in the disposal of environmental waste.

McDermott and LoPresti said the discount should not be given to Schnitzer, which is a profitable company, and that the practice amounts to corporate welfare

“Schnitzer dumps about 600 tons a month of neighbor Island car refuse in our only land fill…and we give them a discount to do this. …It’s just nuts!” said McDermott.

State Office Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for War Hero Barney Hajiro

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that Hawaii flags at all state office and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard be flown at half-staff from sunrise on Feb. 12 to sunset Feb. 14 in honor of the late Barney Fushimi Hajiro.

Hajiro earned a Medal of Honor and Purple Heart for his military service during World War II, including heroic actions in October 1944 when he ran 100 yards through enemy fire to lead the charge of his unit up “Suicide Hill” to take down the enemy.

“Barney Fushimi Hajiro epitomized the dedication, courage and perseverance exhibited during World War II by all Americans of Japanese ancestry … was well-regarded by his community, the people of Hawai‘i and our nation,” said Abercrombie in issuing the proclamation.

‘Chefs of Aloha’ Dinner set for James Beard House in NYC

The Hawaii Restaurant Association said it will sponsor the “Chefs of Aloha” Dinner at the famed James Beard House in New York City on March 9 as part of its year-long celebration of 20 years of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

Chef Alan Wong and Chef George Mavrothalassitis will prepare a six-course tasting menu for members and invited guests of the James Beard Foundation.

Each of the chefs will present two hors d’oeuvres and three courses during the evening.

Honolulu’s Industrial Property Market Tightest in the Nation

Honolulu’s 4.7 percent vacancy rate for industrial property was the lowest of all U.S. cities survey by Colliers International for its fourth-quarter industrial market property report.

The report shows there was no new construction of industrial space in Honolulu during the year and that its vacancy rate compared to a 10.7 percent vacancy rate for the cities as a whole.

The report also found that Honolulu’s warehouse rental costs were the highest in the nation – more than two and a half times the national average at $11.88 per square foot.

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