By Jay Fidell
On Wednesday, February 24th, the Hawaii Venture Capital Association and ThinkTech will present a luncheon panel program called “APEC Means Business for Hawaii.”
More specifically, we will talk about not only about what APEC is and what it hopes to do among participating nations, heads of state, diplomats and global CEOs, but also about how it will affect or could affect business here in Hawaii. We know APEC is huge, but what does it mean to us?
Actually, there hasn’t been much in the news about APEC, except perhaps that it’s going to cost us $25 million plus in security costs to protect the VIPS and how the hotels, restaurants and highways will be full up for a week in November. What we haven’t heard is how it will benefit the city or the state in general.
It’s early for details, but HVCA and ThinkTech feel it’s not too early to inquire. Why? Because most people, including local business people, are coming to believe that APEC is for the VIPs and the hotels but will have little or no effect on them. They’re ready to ignore it as they would any large convention.
So we’ve decided that at this point it’s best to tell the business community exactly how APEC will affect them, and what benefits and opportunities APEC will present for local business people. After all, the VIP participants are in a position, either during or after APEC, to do a lot to bring tourists and trade to Hawaii. We need to understand how that could work, how we can make it happen and whether it'll be worth the effort.
We’re therefore organizing a blue ribbon panel who are involved in organizing APEC, who have attended earlier APEC Summit conferences, who understand the business aspects and prospects that could flow from APEC, and who have been thinking about how they and we can creatively take advantage of those prospects. Will it be investments from Asia, or to Asia, import-export or other trade connections with Asia, direct flights, public and private partnerships with Asian countries and companies, or what?
If we play it right, APEC could mean a lot for Hawaii and in fact for you.
Given its size and scope, APEC is likely to have a significant if not profound effect on Honolulu and the state. At the very least, it will make us more globally aware. We need to analyze what we should be doing and how we can prepare for the effort. All in all, this is an outreach worth considering and an inquiry worth making. If we come together to compare notes now, it will be better for all of us then.
The purpose of the February 24th program is to drill down into what will happen during APEC, who will be here, and how the placement of the conference in Hawaii can turn into long term business benefits and contacts. It’s not easy to look inside the tent 10 months in advance, and it’s not easy to predict APEC’s interaction with the local community, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do on February 24th.
It’ll be at the Plaza Club, 20th Floor. Bill Spencer, president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, hvca.org, will moderate this special panel. You can get more information or sign up to attend the program at thinktechhawaii.com, and it’s probably a good time to check it now.