Gene Huang speaks on potential of growth in Chinese tourism in Hawai'i. Photo Credit: UHERO. Click photo to download high-res version.
Gene Huang speaks on potential of growth in Chinese tourism in Hawai’i. Photo Credit: UHERO.

REPORT FROM UHERO – Local economists, business leaders and policy makers were joined by experts from across the nation today to discuss critical issues facing the state of Hawai’i. The Inaugural UHERO Forum featured keynote addresses by prominent economists as well as breakout sessions focusing on issues such as economic development, sustainability, renewable energy policy, state and local tax policy, clean technology and the economics of local food production. Approximately 160 attendees participated in the UHERO Forum, which was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

“The UHERO Forum is a great opportunity for researchers from across the country to share their work and reach out to stakeholders- research centers like UHERO help to inform decisions we make in all spheres of our lives,” said Carl Bonham, executive director of UHERO. “As an organization that aims to be an educational resource for the public, UHERO is honored to have hosted sessions with speakers who are not only highly knowledgeable about their field, but also passionate about sharing their findings, which can help to create a more promising future for the world.”

Attendees were treated to keynote addresses by Gene Huang, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president of FedEx, and Christina Romer, Ph.D., former chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and the 2012 Dan and Maggie Inouye Chair in Democratic Ideals.

Huang shared his expertise in his speech, “In Search of System Understanding and Control – The Case of U.S. and China.” As the chief economist at one of the world’s largest global transportation companies, Huang provided economic analysis and forecasts during the most tumultuous times for global trade since the Great Recession. Recognized as one of the leading business economists in the world, Huang is the author of two books on business economics and was ranked second among the nation’s top forecasters by The Wall Street Journal in 2006. He serves on numerous prestigious boards and committees.

Romer kept the crowd engaged with her address, “Headwinds, Possible Hurricanes and Hope: Economic Prospects for 2013.” Romer is the Class of 1957 – Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also co-director of the program in monetary economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a regular contributor to the New York Times “Economic View” column in the Sunday business section. From January 2009 until September 2010, Romer served as chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Romer is one of the world’s foremost economic historians. During her time as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, it was her and her husband David’s joint research on the potential effects of fiscal policy on the depressed U.S. economy that dominated the discussion.

Christina Romer speaks on the future of the U.S. economy. Photo Credit: UHERO.

Breakout sessions were also led by various guest speakers:

  • The “Western States Outlook” session highlighted the economic performance and outlook in several states including Hawai’i, California and Nevada.
  • “Economic Impacts of Clean Technologies and Innovations” focused on how clean technologies and innovations directly and indirectly affect the economy, and compared clean technologies to traditional technologies.
  • Speakers in the “Economics of Local Food” session discussed the economic performance of local food producers, their performance relative to outside producers, and the overall implications of globalization on their future viability.
  • “Data-driven Website Case Studies” examined how strategies for keeping data current are received by a critical stakeholder – the press.
  • “State and Local Tax Policy: Taxing E-commerce” focused on taxation of e-commerce, hotel room rentals by online travel agencies, and the impact of tax credits.
  • Speakers in “Energy Policy and Economic Development” discussed a variety of tools and modeling platforms to assess patterns of energy consumption and impacts of energy policy in Hawai’i and the U.S.

Since 1997, UHERO has established itself as the premier source for forecasts and analysis in Hawai’i, providing citizens, policy makers and businesses with the information they need to make daily decisions. UHERO’s research is referenced in local, national and international media, and drives discussions on Hawai’i’s economy, environment and people. As a resource for people in Hawai’i and around the world, UHERO aims to produce research that is both globally relevant and specific to the challenges facing Hawai’i and the Asia Pacific region.

The UHERO Forum was held in conjunction with the Association of University Business and Economic Research (AUBER) Conference. The annual AUBER Conference is held in different cities across the nation, and takes place this year at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oct. 27-30. The annual AUBER Conference features dozens of content-rich sessions planned to engage participants including economists, researchers, communicators, business leaders and designers. The 2012 AUBER Conference  program included a keynote address on Oct. 28 from Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz discussing clean energy in Hawai’i. For additional information on the UHERO Forum, please see this website: http://www.uhero.hawaii.edu/127/

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