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$10M Taxpayer Money in 'High Tech' Giveaways
By News Release @ 8:58 PM :: 2088 Views :: Small Business, COVID-19

$10 Million in HTDC Innovation Grants: Hawaii’s PPE Supply Chain Increase

Where we began, and how are we doing today

News Release from HHTDC, May 13, 2021

(HONOLULU, HAWAII) May 13, 2021-----Just 4 months after the final grants were awarded by HTDC’s Innovate Hawaii, the impact on manufacturing and the PPE supply chain across our State is indicating major increases in all sectors of PPE.

The program, established by Hawaii State Legislators with assistance from HTDC, DBEDT and the Hawaii Small Business Development Center (SBDC), provided grants to small businesses with 50 employees or less in Hawaii.  $10 million of Federal CARES Act funds were provided by the Hawaii State legislature to 36 small businesses across Hawaii for PPE manufacturing to help establish a local supply chain of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Grant awards ranged between $10,000 to $500,000.00.

According to HTDC’s Acting Director Len Higashi, “The purpose of the grant was to help keep people safe.  The byproduct was a major boost to our local economic recovery. The grant program was successful in accomplishing both by providing immediate assistance to small businesses across Hawaii to aid in their manufacturing capacities of PPE and cleaning supplies. With these 36 companies receiving the PPE grants, Hawaii is now producing our own PPE supplies to meet our continuing local demand. These companies were able to rehire employees and, in some cases, hire more, which supports our local economy all the way around.”

From the onset of the pandemic, front line workers and essential workers throughout the world experienced a severe shortage of available cleaning supplies and PPE. So, where are we at today as a state with our PPE Supply Chain here in Hawaii? Today we have a healthy supply in Hawaii of PPE and necessary cleaning supplies because of this grant.  Jobs were saved and created, and our overall PPE capacity increased tremendously.

1. Grants were provided to all counties in Hawaii, See Chart #4

2. The grant increased Full-Time, Part-Time Employees as well as provided new jobs and saved many jobs, See Chart #3

3. PPE Daily Capacity Before & After, See Chart #1

4. Number of Companies producing various PPE See Chart #2

The grants provided vitally important support for local companies on all islands. Based on Kauai, longtime Kama’aina company Kauai Kookie utilized the grant to pivot to the production of much needed cloth Face Masks for their small community. In the early stages of the pandemic, they gave out FREE Kauai Kookies to their patrons wearing face masks.

According to Ann Hashisaka, one of Kauai Kookies owners, “Our pivot was to bring in a consultant to teach our existing bakery employees necessary sewing skills so they could immediately begin mask making which helped to keep all of our employees on staff.” And, she added, “As a manufacturer, our processes allow us to create what our customers need, whether it is a kookie or a mask.  We make all our products including our newest masks with Aloha. And we say Mahalo to our customers and to HTDC for their support!”.  Here is a short manufacturing day video with information on their successful COVID pivot:

And, on Hawaii Island, Protection for Humanity/Hawaiian Forcefield was able to immediately begin making much needed HEALTHY, Hand Sanitizer. As a 100% Female owned business, Protection for Humanity/Hawaiian Forcefield also donated to frontline workers in their community. They manufactured over 1,200 gallons of hand sanitizer in December 2020, an increase of 20% over previous months. Their goal is to produce 100-200 gallons per day. Ginger Hall, Co-Founder shared, “We began by creating a hand sanitizer that wasn’t offensive, toxic, or harmful for our family, friends, and most of all, our children. When the FDA approved sanitizer ran out in the stores, we noticed a lot of businesses replacing such with tech-grade sanitizer on the shelves and at the front entrances. We called the Department of Health to discuss the public health hazards.  We are often the only ones who can speak to the differences between FDA sanitizer and EPA disinfectants. What started as a good idea in our spare time, turned into a “no turning back” now enterprise.  We sourced our base alcohol from a well-known Hawaiian vodka manufacturer on Maui willing to denature it for us in cooperation with revised Federal guidelines during the pandemic.  Using the CDC recommended recipe for sanitizer, we added certified, pure, therapeutic essential oils, natural grades of glycerin, RO water from our island and hydrogen peroxide.  Then we tested it on friends and family, formulating the final quality standards for hand sanitizer.   We spent weeks experimenting on the right percentages before national testing to ensure our hand sanitizer met FDA standards.”

In Hawaii, with limited local capacity for manufacturing PPE, our community was left vulnerable to compete in a race to import supplies. The goal of the program was to increase the local capacity for producing cleaning supplies and PPE for the safety of the public in case the import supply chain is further disrupted due to global escalation of COVID-19 cases. In addition, the program aimed to provide economic support and new opportunity to small businesses that demonstrate potential to provide employment opportunities for displaced workers on all islands caused by the COVID-19-related business closures;  advance innovative solutions related to creating a supply chain of PPE that will benefit the State of Hawaii; and, maximize the total benefit for Hawaii by coordinating with other programs/funds and prioritizing projects that commit matching funds and/or resources to help our community to endure and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

State Senator, Glenn Wakai, Chairperson of Energy, Economic Development and Tourism committee shared, "The PPE Supply Chain Program displayed the impressive adaptability of Hawaii companies. They repurposed their manufacturing processes to quickly create lifesaving products. We all learned that innovation is not only key to economic survival but is the catalyst to new business models. In an effort to keep the momentum going, lawmakers just passed a Hawaii Made initiative, SB 263: .  The measure provides DBEDT with $150,000 to create a “manufacturing concierge service.  The effort will better coordinate the multiple stages of manufacturing and promote the sale of locally made products.  As the State contemplates the need to diversify our economy, lawmakers are looking to harness the strength of tourism to promote locally made products. If we want visitors to spend more money during their stay, let us send them home with more locally made products. Each tourist should be seen as our product ambassadors – they are a readymade distribution channel. I am working with airlines to fill the belly of their planes with reduced cargo rates and having them waive baggage fees for bulky purchases for Hawaii made items.”


About Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC)
HTDC is a state agency, attached to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). HTDC’s mission is to facilitate the development and growth of Hawaii’s high technology industry. HTDC is providing capital, building infrastructure, and developing talent to foster innovation and diversify Hawaii’s economy. HTDC’s 80/80 Initiative is to create 80,000 new tech and innovation jobs that will provide high paying jobs for Hawaii residents. For more information, visit


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