Monday, November 24, 2014

The Military and Hawai‘i’s Economy

Hawai‘i stands to lose nearly 50,000 people, more than 25,000 jobs and $1.35 billion in total economic impact by 2020, if we do not step up to keep thousands of soldiers and their families here in the islands.
In June 2014, the United States Army released the Army 2020 Force Structure Realignment report, assessing the impacts of potential reductions in personnel and base operations. Among the 30 installations at risk for downsizing are Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
The report discusses "Alternative 1," the potential population loss of 3,800 from Fort Shafter and 16,000 from Schofield Barracks, representing an 83 percent cut in permanent party population. Imagine, for a second the impact on O‘ahu from the potential reductions to Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks Scenario:
  • Loss of almost 50,000 people or 5.1 percent of our island's population.
  • Loss of more than 25,000 jobs, which translates to 4.3 percent of all O‘ahu's jobs.
  • Loss of 1.35 billion in total economic impact is equal to 1.2 percent of our island's income.
The impact island-wide is certainly troubling, yet, it is nothing compared to the potential impact on the surrounding communities which are so closely tied with the military bases. Now, imagine the likely effect to the neighborhoods — Wahiawa, Schofield, Mililani, Kunia and Waialua — immediately surrounding Schofield Barracks:
  • The five surrounding neighborhoods would likely lose close to 40,000 people, 38 percent of the population in the aforementioned areas.
  • Nearly 20,000 jobs could be lost. That's equivalent to losing the State's largest non-government employer more than three-times over.
  • Close to 9,000 spouses and more than 15,000 children would be affected.
Big picture, these losses would likely mean:
  • Miliani, Waipio and Wahiawa would be set back for decades.
  • The impacts would be felt right along the H-2 all the way back to both coasts from Haleiwa to Pearl Harbor.
  • The State would lose significant tax revenues.
  • Hardest hit economic entities would be in the following sectors, especially in this five zip-code area: construction, retail, restaurants, real estate, and professional scientific and technical service professions.
  • Further and significant repercussions would be to real estate values, unemployment rates and military tourism visitors.
  • Further cuts might even result in loss of the 25th Infantry Division, a loss that would be a severe blow not just to Hawai‘i, but to the entire Pacific region.
Although these are illustrative impacts, it is clear that the impact of military base change is less of a general deflation across our local economy as whole, but a crater in the economic geography of our community. Put simply, "Alternative 1" would not be a "potentially significant" socioeconomic impact. It's an existential threat to several of our local communities and, while no final decisions have been made, reductions to personnel are a forthcoming reality for the army.
Military service personnel, veterans and their families are an important part of our history and community. I hope this will continue for years to come.
This blog was originally published in the Huffington Post.

Friday, October 3, 2014

S&P Update on HPU

Yesterday, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s announced that it has affirmed Hawai‘i Pacific University’s maintenance of its 'BB+' long-term bond rating.  HPU’s unchanged rating comes at a time when Standard & Poor's expects that downgrades of private universities will outnumber positive changes. Today’s Star-Advertiser inaccurately reported the S&P announcement as a downgrade on its cover page. This headline is wrong and the university has sent a letter seeking an immediate retraction. (Note: Star-Advertiser's correction ran in the Sunday, Oct. 5, edition.)

S&P noted that HPU continues to have good financial resources for the rating category, with an above-average endowment and focused efforts on fundraising. The agency cited HPU’s good financial resource ratios, low tuition discount rate and a senior management team that has refined its plans that “adequately suit the university’s business position.” The administration had a positive conversation with S&P representatives last week. They complimented the university on its thoroughness and transparency.

We continue to report to the Board of Trustees on how best to improve in rating categories so that we could strive for that in the future. Nevertheless, we recognize it will take a number of years and successful implementation of the ATM project, but a path forward is being charted. We will continue the important work of implementing the university’s strategic plan and vision.

Geoffrey Bannister

Learning about cultural sustainability

Hawai‘i Pacific University volunteers learned about sustainability and native Hawaiian culture during a workday at He‘eia Fishpond, Sept. 27.

Our students and community members — including Student Life staff, myself and my wife Jerri Ross — visited with Paepae O He‘eia, a nonprofit organization that educates about cultural sustainability through its work caring for the ancient Hawaiian fishpond. The visit was part of our Hawai‘i Spotlight program.

For the Fall 2014 Semester, HPU Student Life has teamed up with faculty to discuss the importance of water and how modern day life has affected our natural resources. Our Malama I Ka Wai Program (Take Care of Our Water) will provide opportunities for students to explore Hawai‘i’s unique local landscape, history and learn why they are important to the island we share.