Creating a Local Strategy for Economic Prosperity and Resilience | News, Sports, Jobs

The county is in the process of updating its fourth Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), “an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies”, for publication later this year.

This update occurs every five years, as a result of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Reauthorization Act of 2004. Maui County has completed three CEDS, in 2004, 2010, and 2016.

CEDS aims to create a local economic development strategy and an enabling environment for economic prosperity and resilience.

Hawaii Counties have historically engaged our Economic Development Councils to perform the required analysis and reporting. In our case, the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) achieved this goal by working with a network of connected businesses, suppliers and associates in a specific field who are all located in the same geographic area. This is called a “cluster-based process” as required by federal law.

CEDS 2016 was led by a strategic committee that identified key economic hubs in Maui County that are driving the economy:

• Agriculture.

• Construction.

• Creative industries.

• Energy.

• Health and wellbeing.

• Science, technology and innovation.

• Sports and leisures.

• Visitor industry.

Additionally, geographic clusters for Hana, Lana’i and Moloka’i have been identified, recognizing that the economic priorities of these communities are unique.

Having recently familiarized itself with CEDS, the Temporary Investigative Group on Tourism Management and Economic Development has found it to be a useful resource in developing a legislative approach that will best support our county’s economic strategy. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as the council has diligently focused on managing tourism, while simultaneously working to diversify our economy.

Regions are required to update their CEDS to be eligible for assistance from the EDA under its public works and economic adjustment assistance programs. The EDA provides funds to each state, and the state allocates funds to each county. Additionally, a CEDS is a prerequisite for EDA designation as an Economic Development District.

The regulations governing CEDS – found in Title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations at Section 303.7 – require the following in the CEDS document:

• Historical Summary: A historical summary of economic conditions in the region.

• SWOT Analysis: An in-depth analysis of regional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

• Strategic direction/action plan: The strategic direction and action plan should build on the results of the SWOT analysis and incorporate/integrate elements from other regional plans (land use planning and transport, development labor, etc.).

• Evaluation Framework: Performance measures used to assess the organization’s implementation of CEDS and its impact on the regional economy.

In addition, the guidance emphasizes the need to think beyond traditional job creation and embrace capacity building and large-scale wealth creation when developing goals, measurable targets, actions and performance measures.

These requirements also highlight the need to adopt an asset-based approach. Efforts that focus on the strengths of a community, while considering the interdependencies between regional economic prosperity and other topics such as employment-focused workforce development, management and natural resource development and sustainable land use.

I invited the MEDB to join the board members at my Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting on January 26 and make a presentation on the CEDS during its update. (Meeting link: At this meeting, I requested that in addition to the required SWOT analysis, SMART goals also be included to update a more CEDS usable. SMART is an acronym used to guide goal setting (specific. measurable. achievable. relevant. time-bound).

The MEDB will convene various community focus groups over the coming months to gather comprehensive inputs and inform cluster-based strategies. Please contact me via email at [email protected] if you would like to get more involved.

* Keani Rawlins-Fernandez is Vice President of the Maui County Council and Chair of the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee. It serves as the county council seat for the Moloka’i residential area. “3 Minutes of the Council” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit for more information.

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