BY JIM DOOLEY – A $13 million federal grant will be used by the state to assist formation and development of small businesses in Hawaii, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a news conference.
The money, from a federal program called the State Small Business Credit Initiative, is expected to be matched 10-1 by private investors over the next seven years, said Abercrombie.
The funds will be administered by a little-known state agency called the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. that was founded in 1990.
The agency has only an $11 million investment portfolio and $817,000 of available cash now, according to its latest annual report.
“This is the first infusion of cash back into Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. in many years,” said the agency’s chairman, Danton Wong.
“Now’s the time for us to move forward,” said the governor. “We’re going to make full use of every dollar of this $13 million.”
“One of the key challenges is to find private money that can leverage our capital,” said HSDC president Karl Fooks.
“One of the obstacles we’ve had in the past here in Hawaii is finding large sources of investment capital,” Fooks said.
“We are going to try to use this as a way to catalyze and incentivize people to participate with us,” Fooks continued.
Abercrombie said he believes the federal money will provoke immediate interest from the private sector.
“People in the venture capital area are probably preparing their applications right now,” he said.
Abercrombie said he hopes the program will support small businesses engaged in high technology, energy and “food security.”