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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Economic Adjustment Assistance 2 $230,000
Public Works 1 $1,600,000
Regional Innovation Program 1 $275,000
Technical Assistance 1 $125,000
Planning 1 $93,000
Grand Total 6 $2,323,000

Oahu, HI - The Waianae community in the western part of the Island of Oahu in Hawaii has experienced significant economic distress. According to the American Community Survey, the Waianae community’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent at the end of 2014. Its per capita income was $18,710, which was 65 percent of the national per capita income. The region has demonstrated a need for new employment opportunities that provide a more substantial income for the community’s workforce. The local population is underserved, as it does not benefit from the region’s strongest industries, which are tourism and defense. In an effort to address the economic challenges affecting Waianae, a local community and economic development organization invested in a program designed to create economic opportunities for the community through workforce development. Waianae has pursued development in the agricultural industry through the vocation of farming. The Waianae Community Re-Development Corporation operates a farm that does business under the name MA’O Organic Farms. MA?O Organic Farms trains new farmers and community leaders to co-manage the organizations’ operations as they harvest, process, market and distribute over 2 tons of high quality organic fruits and vegetables. In addition to their workforce development efforts, the organization operates a training and education program to teach the vocation of farming to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. The MA?O Community Food Systems Initiative aims to empower local families and the community to work toward a just, healthy, self-reliant, sustainable and resilient food system for Hawaii.

EDA invested in a partnership with the community granting a $1.6 million financial assistance award. The funds will support the construction of a 7,500 square-foot building and electrical, water, and telecommunications infrastructure.

The program has enabled the community to become more economically viable through the development of a sustainable industry. In addition, the farming operation has contributed to the growth of the manufacturing sector and has created economic opportunities in the wholesale and retail sectors of the food production and distribution industry. According to the recipient, it is estimated that 200 new jobs will be created as the result of the successfully completed project.

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