In brief

  • The National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority earlier this month was awarded a $1.8 million grant to support business retention and growth initiatives at the North Kona technology park. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

NELHA gets $1.8M grant to support business retention, growth

The National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority earlier this month was awarded a $1.8 million grant to support business retention and growth initiatives at the North Kona technology park.

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The funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will be matched with $459,658 in local investment. The move’s expected to create 250 jobs and spur $40 million in private investment.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the project will support the Big Island’s economic recovery from the 2018 Kilauea Volcano eruption through the “creation of well-paying, quality jobs and the establishment of green technology industries.”

“EDA is committed to helping communities across Hawaii build back stronger following natural disasters,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will allow the NELHA-administered Hawaii Ocean Sciences and Technology Park to extend its Aquaculture Accelerator program and develop an associated aquaculture incubator program, helping attract new businesses and industries.”

The federal funding comes from the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which provided $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, Typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act.

Island Vintage Coffee announces Waikoloa location

Island Vintage Coffee, celebrating 25 years of serving the finest premiere 100% Kona Coffee and home of world-famous acai bowls, poke bowls, salads, sandwiches, entrees, tea drinks, smoothies, and more, is bringing its farm-to-table deliciousness to Hawaii Island next month.

Island Vintage Coffee will open in mid- to late-June at the Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa in a new 1,619-square-foot location next to the Whalers General Store. This will be the first Big Island location for the locally owned company that has several locations on O‘ahu and Maui, as well as Japan.

The Waikoloa location will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The store will also sell logo merchandise, whole beans and other Island Vintage Coffee brand products, and feature indoor and outdoor patio seating and take-out.

Island Vintage Coffee is currently hiring for all positions, including management, baristas, cooks, cashiers, counter servers, food runners, bussers, dishwashers, and sales. To apply, call (808) 383-2030, or email a resume to info@islandvintagecoffee.com.

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Banks could shed 200,000 jobs in decade

U.S. banks could cut as many as 200,000 jobs in the next decade as they try to boost efficiency to compete with fintech and other upstarts encroaching on their territory, according to Wells Fargo &Co.

The eliminations are likely to accelerate as the economy reopens following the Covid-19 pandemic and conditions normalize, Wells Fargo analysts led by Mike Mayo said in a note, adding that “this will be the biggest reduction in U.S. bank headcount in history.” Banks have little choice but to improve productivity in the face of stiffening competition from fintech, technology and retail firms, he said.

Non-banks offering lower-cost products online have steadily chipped away at the businesses of traditional lenders, with efforts intensifying over the past year as the pandemic pushed consumers to digital options. Earlier this year, Walmart Inc. lured a pair of senior Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers to run its fledgling fintech startup — a move that struck fear on Wall Street. Mainstream lenders have pleaded with regulators to halt efforts by retailers and startups to offer core banking products.

“Technology is impacting banking more than even before,” Mayo said in an interview. “For banks, technology is both friend and foe.”

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Initial jobless claims in US decline to fresh pandemic low

Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell last week to a fresh pandemic low, signaling steady improvement in the job market as remaining business restrictions are lifted.

Initial claims in regular state programs decreased by 34,000 to 444,000 in the week ended May 15, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 450,000 applications. The prior week’s figure was revised up slightly, to 478,000.

The drop in jobless applications shows the labor market continues to thaw as more Americans get vaccinated and return to work. Nonetheless, the level of claims remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels and indicates the labor market is still far from a full recovery.

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Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits unexpectedly jumped 111,000 in the week ended May 8, the largest weekly increase since the end of November. Initial applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed and gig workers decreased slightly last week.

By local and wire sources

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