Our Islands, Our Future


As part of their Innovation Series, Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) workshop Rural Energy for America Program: REAP-ing What You Sow, drew a packed audience. The seminar, led by presenter John Antonio, State Energy Coordinator at the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, offered attendees valuable information about the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). “My goal at the workshop was to introduce REAP to Maui, since not too many people know about the program,” said Antonio. “My job as USDA coordinator is to make the energy grant understandable, and to help increase economic opportunity for rural Americans.” Under this state program, farmers, ranchers and small business owners interested in saving money on their energy bills, or implementing energy-efficient and renewable-energy improvements, have eligibility. Guaranteed loans, grants, or a combination loan and grant for qualified projects are all available.

“It is critically important that Maui businesses are aware of and take advantage of Federal, State, and County cost-saving programs that are available to them,” said Gerry Smith, MEDB Director of Business Development. “At MEDB we’re always seeking out ways to assist businesses. A great way to do that is to bring in the people who run the programs, to share that knowledge with our local community.” Following the workshop, the USDA staff members were available for one-on-one consultations. They talked about the specific needs of the attendees, such as the benefits of increasing profit margins and lower energy costs. Additionally, the different types of eligible projects were discussed.

“I’m here to see if there might be funding opportunities for our agricultural neighborhood project, Hoku Nui Maui,” said workshop participant Gregory Raab. “This farm-residential community, which includes affordable housing, is off-grid and we’re looking into developing photovoltaic and other alternative energy sources.” Attendees were encouraged to look into ways they could improve energy use for their own business or their clients’ businesses. The REAP workshop also motivated attendees to look into other federal and state grant programs.

We came to the REAP workshop to learn more about the grants and loans available here on Maui. The information we learned was helpful for us to proceed with ways to save money and improve our business ventures. Thanks to MEDB for their Innovation Series!

John and Joni Stone, J2 Travels