More than 350 people are expected to attend the Small Business Hawaii 27th Annual Conference today themed “Small Business 2003: Changing Hawaii’s Business Climate for a Better Future,” which is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu. Calls poured into the office over the last several days of Small Business Hawaii, a non-profit member organization that lobbies and is an advocate for business in Hawaii. Sam Slom, president of Small Business Hawaii, says many member business owners and managers plan to attend the conference to hear Gov. Linda Lingle’s keynote address where she will unveil her platform to help Hawaii’s businesses and better the economy. Lingle, a Republican, promised in her campaign that she will do everything in her power to make Hawaii’s business climate better and to rid the state of legislation that hinders and hurts business and prevents investments from outside Hawaii. Business owners and operators say they are thrilled with the change in attitude between the Lingle administration and that of the former governor, Benjamin Cayetano, who was hostile toward businesses and passed burdensome legislation. Hours before Lingle gives the keynote address at the noon lunch, the conference will open at 8 a.m. with a brief address from Slom, who in addition to being president of the organization is a Republican state Senator. Around 8:30 a.m., Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle will talk about crimes against business and how to prosecute them. Audience members concerned about the rise in property crime will be able to hear from and ask questions of both Carlisle and Mary Paulson, president of Security One, one of Hawaii’s most successful alarm companies. Paulson will make her speech during the “Small Business Success Stories” portion of the conference. Two other small business owners, Bill Green of Kahala Shell and Wayne Samiere of Honolulu Fish Company, also will be a part of the success stories segment and share their challenges and triumphs as small business owners in Hawaii. Those interested in campaign reform will hear from one of Hawaii’s most controversial figures, Bob Watada, executive director of the Campaign Spending Commission. Watada, who has fined and investigated elected officials from both major political parties and has gone up against some of the most powerful people in the state in an effort to clean up a corrupt political system, will address the conferees on “What Campaign Reforms Are Needed in 2003.” Following him is a panel of state Legislators who will discuss legislation they will introduce or fight in the coming year and how that will affect the business community. On the panel are Senate Majority Leader Colleen Hanabusa, D-Waianae; Senate Minority Policy Leader Bob Hogue, R-Kailua; and House Minority Leader Galen Fox, R-Waikiki. After the state legislators conclude their panel, hosted by KHVH Morning Talk Show Host Rick Hamada, the city council members will have their turn at laying out their plans for 2003. Topics will include taxes, budget, priorities in the city administration, the Bus Rapid Transit System, the overflowing city landfill and ethics at City Hall. Small Business Hawaii President and Executive Director Sam Slom says the public is welcome to attend. The cost is $40 for SBH members and their guests, $50 for non-members and for those who pay at the door. Slom says because of tough economic times in Hawaii and the drain this has put on the non-profit member organization, for the first time in the annual conference’s history there are corporate sponsorships for the event. Gold Sponsors include Small Business Hawaii members Ed Medeiros of Aloha Flea Market and Heavy Metal Barbell Company, Gary Arizala and HawaiiReporter.com. The Systemcenter, Inc., owned by Joyce and Bill Edwards, the winners of the Small Business Hawaii Persons of the Year in 2001, and ALTRES Inc., owned by Barron Guss, will be the Silver Sponsors. Bronze Sponsors are J.S. Services Inc. and New England Financial. Friends of Small Business Hawaii, a fourth level of sponsorship, include the Copy Shop Inc., Oils of Aloha, Charley’s Taxi, Peterson Signs-A Division of Sun Industries and The Quorum. For additional information, check out the SBH Web site at http://www.smallbusinesshawaii.com

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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.