2018: Business Concerns and Anticipation

Jan 5, 2018

Credit Edmund Garman / Flickr

As 2018 gets underway, you may have resolutions or goals or simply plans. Pacific Business News spoke to 20 business leaders in Hawai‘i to hear what they’re anticipating, or dreading, in the year ahead. Editor in chief A. Kam Napier has more.

PBN put three questions to business leaders in a range of industries: What are you excited about for the coming year? What are you worried about? And what is the biggest problem in your industry that needs to be solved?

One theme that emerged from their answers is a concern about rising costs. 

Chef/owner Ed Kenney, for example, worries that restaurants can’t raise prices enough to keep up with the cost of doing business. Eugene Tian, Hawaii’s chief state economist, worries that visitor spending, adjusted for inflation, actually declined 5 percent from 2006 to 2016, even as visitor arrivals increased 17.1, so spending is not keeping up with the costs of growing visitor impacts. Real estate broker Kalama Kim worries about the cost of housing, and so does Bob Harrison, chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank.

On the bright side, Catherine Ngo, president and CEO of Central Pacific Banks, is hopeful that the recently passed tax reform will have positive impacts on key drivers of the state’s economy, such as tourism, construction and consumer spending. A number of business leaders cited the increased airlift from Japan as a positive development. Eugene Tian says air seats to Hawaii from all destinations will increase 8.5 percent during the first nine months of 2018. Provided there are no “black swan” events beyond Hawaii’s control, more customers are coming, ready to spend in the Islands.