“We are active and we expect to continue to be active,” he concluded. “You’re doing the things that align with our investment priorities, so we want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing and to view us as a worthy partner that can provide guidance and support.”


Moderator Schatz added several points. First, he said that the established industries in the state of Hawaii were showing signs of recovery since the recession. “We have some good news on the tourism front,” he said, “and construction is starting to improve.” Second, the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting was scheduled for Waikiki in November 2011 with 21 member economies. “We think that’s a tremendous opportunity for both our public and private sectors to reposition Hawaii vis-a-vis Asia, strengthen existing connections, and rebrand ourselves as a serious place to conduct business travel as well as to conduct business.” Finally, he said, Hawaii had now developed an “unprecedented partnership between the University, the federal government, and state government. That’s something we used to have 20 or 30 years ago, and it had sort of frayed. But now, with a governor from the University and a university president from the federal government, we have a great opportunity to strengthen these partnerships with the private sector.”

Dr. Wessner said he would like to hear more discussion about the issues of industrial policy, which “we on the mainland are dancing around. Every other country in the world has an industrial policy, which really means to make your country or state an attractive place for doing business, and picking strategic areas to emphasize. We’ve allowed that debate to degenerate into an argument over picking winners or losers, which to me is the wrong debate. And each time we have elections we change policies. The question is, ‘How we can make strategic decisions that might last 5 or 10 years? Otherwise it’s hard to form a serious public-private partnership, which puts us at a disadvantage relative to Asia and Europe.’”

Mr. Johnson responded that he did not have the answer, but said that all parties needed to move beyond “historic thinking and being. It’s about a transformative approach. I find that whenever we advance a policy, even our constituents in economic development tend to ask, ‘Why?’ We need to articulate the case and demonstrate the upside to show how partnerships are preferred to staying where we are.”

Virginia Hinshaw, the UH chancellor, said she noticed that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Hawaii did not include the University of Hawaii, and asked Mr. Kilmer how many universities actively participated. Mr. Kilmer replied that he did not know the details for Hawaii, but that universities were the lead partner for operations at about 17 centers. “But partnerships go much beyond that,” he said. “It depends on the local region. In the southern part of the U.S. mainland, the universities are the primary economic base from Texas to Florida. In other regions, other organizations may lead, but the universities will still be involved.”

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