If you didn’t know it, ThinkTech produces three hours of community television content every week on OLELO and a weekly 30-minute program on OC16. See Olelo.org and oc16.tv for details. Beyond that, ThinkTech also organizes business conferences downtown, and this spring there are a number of them.
APEC MEANS BUSINESS - February 24th
The first thing we need to do is get ready for the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in November. Hawaii Venture Capital Association and ThinkTech are collaborating to present APEC Means Business for Hawaii on February 24th. We have a fabulous panel for that program: Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, Jim Tollefson of the Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador Lauren Moriarty, Dick Baker of the East-West Center and our own Darren Kimura of Sopogy, all to talk about how Hawaii business can get in on APEC.
Here are some additional questions we hope will be discussed:
1. What is APEC going to involve diplomatically? What questions will be discussed and what deals might be at issue among the chiefs of state, other officials and CEOs.
2. What are the metrics: How many people will be here? How many heads of state, how many other officials and how many CEOs? What supporting staff and family will be here?
3. What kind of activities will they engage in while they are here? What is the schedule of events and conferences and other presentations, gatherings and recreational activities? What are the venues, and can the venues include downtown presentations?
4. What access will the business community have to the groups involved, i.e., the heads of state, the participating officials and the CEOs?
5. Assuming access at one point or another, will there be opportunity for Hawaii businesses to talk business with them, and what kinds of deals should they be thinking about?
6. How can Hawaii businesses determine the individuals and organizations that will be here, and how can they contact them in advance of the Summit to set up meetings?
7. Who will make the introductions? Will the Committee help? Will some other agency help? Will the State Department or the U.S. Commercial Services office help in making introductions and getting the APEC players and local business people in the same room?
8. What is your advice on how Hawaii businesses can follow up on introductions and preliminary business discussions? What opportunities will local business have to follow up with APEC officials or CEOs or staff after the Summit is over?
9. What kinds of Hawaii business are most likely to be able to participate? Who will be able to get access? Who will not be able to get access? Who will be able to make deals and who will not be able to make deals?
10. What after-hours and social contact will be possible and appropriate for Hawaii business to pursue business relationships with APEC officials and CEOs? Will APEC have social events that Hawaii business can attend?
11. In a Summit like this, what are the APEC officials and CEOs looking for in terms of credible business proposals? What areas are most attractive these days?
12. What kind of paperwork and preparation will be necessary or helpful for Hawaii business to approach APEC officials or CEOs or staff members to make the best impression?
13. What are the events and milestones that will take place between now and November? What should Hawaii business be doing to prepare contact with APEC officials, CEOs and staff?
This ought to be very helpful for any Hawaii business that has an interest in APEC or in doing business with people involved in APEC. To sign up for the program, see thinktechhawaii.com or hvca.org.
HOUSING IN HAWAII - WHAT'S HOLDING US UP? - March 23rd
Housing is an increasing challenge in Hawaii. Land is expensive, and so is construction materials and labor, and the result is housing is more expensive than it should be, to the point where it’s hard to afford a house and many people can’t. In our current decline, many people are losing their homes. The American dream of owning a house, or even renting one, is becoming more difficult in Hawaii. And the number of homeless families is huge and getting larger to the point where it's a major problem.
So we thought we’d examine the housing problem in another HVCA-ThinkTech program at the Plaza Club on March 23rd. This will be a half day program, starting at breakfast and running through lunch. It’ll feature a wake-up keynote and four blue ribbon panels of experts involved in every aspect of housing in Hawaii, including those who do the planning and sometimes oppose it, those who develop and build, and those who market the finished products.
With them, we’ll make a candid inquiry into why we don’t have sufficient housing for our people, what we can do to provide more housing that our people can afford, and what will happen if we don’t. It’ll move very quickly, as all of our half-day programs, and some of the speakers will undoubtedly take your breath away.
Want to know what’s holding housing up (a triple entendre), and what we need to do, individually and as a community, to preserve opportunities for decent housing in Hawaii? After all, if you can't find reasonable housing, you're either on the beach or out of town. One way the other, this issue will affect us all, and profoundly. Sign up for this program at thinktechhawaii.com and hvca.org.
RECIPROCAL INVESTMENT WITH CHINA - April 28th
Of course, China is investing in the U.S. and to some degree in Hawaii. And certainly Hawaii people can invest in China. Some say the returns from investments in China are terrific. But how does a local business find investors in China, and how does he negotiate an investment from them. Likewise, how do local investors find worthy investments in China and how does he make that investment without losing his shirt. When you’re talking about international investment, the stakes are high, but so are the complications and risks.
So being educated on these things is very important. And that is the point of our program in April. On April 28th, ThinkTech will again team up with the Hawaii Venture Capital Association to present a luncheon panel program at the Plaza Club entitled “Reciprocal Investments with China.” What that really means is that we’ll study both sides of the coin – how we can invest in China and how can we get them to invest in us. China has billions to invest, and it has new and vital companies in all kinds of industries. Surely, there must be some opportunities for us.
To find the answer, we’ll turn to another panel of experts. We’ll have experts in what’s going on in China and what’s going on when China comes here. We have a law professor who teaches international investment in Shanghai, some lawyers and businessmen who handle investments going both ways, and a tax expert who can tell us the tax challenges of making deals with Chinese entrepreneurs and investors.
Like it or not, the destinies are China and the U.S. are linked, and more than that the destinies of China and Hawaii are linked. We have some knowledgeable experts in Hawaii, and we can still become the bridge to Asia, and a special place along the way for China’s relationship with the U.S. They are investing all over the world, and inviting investors from all over the world to invest in their huge market. This should not be lost on us, and we should jump in if we possibly can.
Their ability to manufacture things is formidable, including technology that will change the world. In recent years, they have become world leaders in wind turbines, PV cells and other tech and clean energy devices. What’s more is that China has often linked the sale of their equipment with investment in the buyer of their equipment, an enormous benefit for startups. See what happened in the case of Hoku Scientific, a public company. This could be very valuable to Hawaii, especially in tech and in the burgeoning clean energy industry.
Regrettably, Hawaii has not yet taken advantage of its historic connection with China. We have not done direct flights. We have not achieved any meaningful level of tourism. We haven’t even posted signs in Mandarin at the airport. And despite Madame Wu Yi’s visit in 2006, we haven’t sold them much at all, either in chattels or land. Nor have Hawaii investors done much in investing in China. We’ve lost time, and maybe this program can show us the way to catch up. We need to learn how to do this, and then we have to do it.
Our mission at ThinkTech is to reveal things that can raise global awareness for Hawaii, and this program is intended to do just that. The panel is very impressive and knowledgeable. Many are multilingual. All are global citizens and have been through various transactions and investments, with lots of stories to tell. To hear them, and meet them, sign up for this April 28th program at thinktechhawaii.com or hvca.org.
Stay tuned for more details on these and other joint programs on both of these sites.