The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the vulnerabilities of many communities and regions around the world. From high rates of unemployment sparked by shutdowns and travel restrictions to the ripple effects this had on sectors such as childcare and education, Hawaiʻi was no exception. As our state begins returning to a sense of normal, it becomes critical to reflect on the vulnerabilities identified throughout the pandemic to better prepare for, avoid, or minimize the negative impacts from similar challenges in the future.
The State of Hawai‘i Office of Planning & Sustainable Development’s Special Plans Branch was awarded a Statewide Planning Grant funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to develop an economic recovery and resiliency plan for Hawaiʻi. Known as the Hawaiʻi Economic Recovery & Resilience (“HIERR”) Project, this planning process aims to strengthen the resiliency of Hawaiʻi’s economy.
The HIERR Project is focused on enabling the conditions for a more resilient economy in three ways: 1) strengthening pre- and post-disaster economic recovery planning, 2) coordinating cluster-based economic development to diversify Hawaiʻi’s tax revenue sources and support the well-being of Hawaiʻi’s people, environment, and culture, and 3) analyzing import dependencies and substitution feasibility to inform policies, programs, and projects that advance Hawaiʻi’s security goals.
Economic, social, environmental, equity, and sustainability outcomes will frame the planning process to ensure that the HIERR Project facilitates community-centered well-being and values. The HIERR Project will build on both the statewide and county-level goals and objectives, and cluster-based priority actions, identified in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), with the goal of facilitating a more integrated implementation of projects and programs across community-based, government, and non-government economic development organizations and practitioners. In doing so, the HIERR Project may help to better position such initiatives for alignment with federal, state, and philanthropic funding sources, and maximize the impact of the dollars spent.
The planning period is currently ongoing and will conclude by April 2024.