Our Islands, Our Future

A workshop on using census data on Maui and webcast on Molokai were a hit for participants, especially those who use numbers to understand what’s happening in the world of business. “The MEDB workshop was excellent and for those of us who use numbers on a regular basis for planning and reporting, this was the most comprehensive census data workshop I have ever attended,” said Jennifer Hawkins, Maui County’s small business advocate on Molokai. “After years of using census data for reporting, I learned that postal ZIP codes and census ZIP codes are not necessarily the same,” she said. “I also learned about helpful tools that will soon be released to aid in locating the data for which one is searching.”

One of these tools, the Census Business Builder, is coming soon to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website. The tool was highlighted during a Maui Economic Development Board workshop, “Using Census Bureau Demographic and Economic Data in a Business Plan,” held February 27 at MEDB’s Malcolm Center in Kihei. Andrew Hait, the Program Planning & Data User Outreach Liaison for the Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C., traveled to Maui to present the workshop. Hait provided an overview of selected, key Census Bureau demographic and economic programs, and how the information from these programs can be used by entrepreneurs and businesses in a business plan and loan application.

The workshop attended by 25 people was also made available to Molokai residents via webcast. Hawkins said it was important to give Molokai residents access to the workshop. “So many times, we have wonderful speakers come to our state and county, but never make it to Molokai,” she said. “As small business advocate, I try to provide access to as many off island resources as I can for Molokai businesses. Data provided by the Census Bureau is crucial for our businesses, whether they are writing a business plan, applying for a grant or just doing market research.”