In brief: October 19, 2020

Applications being accepted for EmPOWER Hawaii Project corhort

Applications for Hawaii Energy’s 2020-21 EmPOWER Hawaii Project are now available.


The project, launched by Hawaii Energy in 2018, works to help local nonprofits implement energy efficiency projects by providing increased incentives and elevated technical assistance to help organizations save energy and reduce their operating costs. To date, 12 local nonprofits have participated in the program. The application period for the 2020-21 cohort is open now until Nov. 13.

“For more than a decade, Hawaii Energy has been helping local businesses by making energy efficiency more accessible and affordable. Through the EmPOWER Hawaii Project, local nonprofits have been able to reduce their energy consumption by over 249,000 kilowatt-hours and save more than $56,000 off their electricity bills,” said Brian Kealoha, executive director of Hawaii Energy. “Nonprofits work with limited budgets and high operating costs, and on top of that, are now dealing with the devastating effects of the pandemic. By providing significantly discounted energy efficiency upgrades, our goal is to help nonprofits save on their electric bills so they can continue to support their important missions.”

Hawaii Energy will select 10 qualified organizations to participate in the cohort.

Upon selection, Hawaii Energy will complete an equipment survey of each participating facility, identify opportunities for energy-saving projects, and will assist with project execution from start to finish. Over the course of a 10- to 12-month period, Hawaii Energy will provide technical assistance.

Eligible applicants must possess tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) status; be in operation for at least three years; have the authority to make capital improvements at their facility, or in best cases, own the facility; demonstrate ability to provide high-quality services and community impact; and be willing to commit at least 20 hours over the next year to the project.

Applicants interested in more information on the program should take part in a virtual Information Session at noon on Oct. 27 To register, visit

$500K to help local businesses promote products overseas

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) will receive $500,000 to support local businesses as they adapt and respond to the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, announced recently.

The funding, provided through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), will fund several programs at DBEDT, including those to help businesses reach customers through international trade shows, webinars focused on e-commerce and digital marketing strategies, webinars focused on export- and market-specific topics, business counseling with partner organizations, and technical assistance.


“This is the eighth year we received STEP export expansion grant from the SBA,” said Dennis Ling, administrator of the Business Development and Support Division of DBEDT. “Throughout those years, we have supported over 900 companies with training, trade shows, missions and direct assistance. As a result, over $105 million in exports have been realized, not taking into account those continued exports as a result of our introductory assistance. Although the 2020 economic environment is a totally different, we look forward to pivoting into new ways working with the STEP program to maintain and grow exports.”

During the last eight years, Hawaii has received more than $4.5 million through STEP, which it has used to support more than $80 million in new exports for Hawaii businesses. The program has supported over 800 jobs, and created over $100 million in economic impacts, generating millions in state taxes.

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