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From the September 5, 2003 print edition
Forty Under 40 offer hope for Hawaii's future

With recent U.S. Census data suggesting that 75,000 more people left Hawaii for the mainland than came here in a five-year period, there is valid concern about the viability of the next Hawaii, especially the leadership potential among younger businesspeople.

A widely shared concern in the business community is that the so-called "brain drain" -- younger bright people leaving the state -- far exceeds the counter "brain gain" -- those returning or coming here.

So, today, we provide some words of encouragement: There are a lot of bright, innovative, determined and persevering younger businesspeople in Hawaii who offer a lot of hope for the next generation of leaders.

That's been demonstrated again with the men and women honored last night at the fourth annual Forty Under 40 event celebrating business leaders under 40. More than 300 people gathered at the Honolulu Academy of Arts to celebrate the achievements of this year's group and to hear words of praise from Gov. Linda Lingle.

The 40 people recognized are part of a special focus section in today's PBN and, as a group, they are take-charge competitors who understand the dynamics of what's needed to succeed in business here.

They also are a diverse bunch.

The Business Leader of the Year, Peter Ho, is group executive vice president at Bank of Hawaii. He's the third generation of an entrepreneurial family that began with the legendary Chinn Ho, a man who saw opportunities where no one else looked, and continued with Peter's father, Stuart.

On the Big Island, Toby Taniguchi is vice president for store operations of KTA Super Stores, a family-owned business that has used service and innovation as tools to grow market share against mainland-based big-box competition.

But there also are stories of people born elsewhere or who moved away after growing up in Hawaii, who moved or returned here as recently as 10 years ago and assumed leadership roles built on personal visions and the ability to connect with our unique business culture.

That was the case with Ann Chung, who returned in 1999 from the mainland and carved a leadership niche in helping start the Hawaii Technology Trade Association. Dr. Alan Stein, who came to Hawaii in 1998, has been committed to dealing with epilepsy on a professional and volunteer basis.

There is another reason we are especially enthusiastic about this group.

Among the responsibilities of running or growing a business and handling family and other personal responsibilities, a common theme among the biographies of the 40 is a strong sense of community commitment.

The recipient of the Bank of Hawaii Community Leader award, Christine Camp Friedman, is an outstanding example. Born in South Korea, she came to Hawaii, became involved in real estate after college and started her own business, Avalon Development.

Friedman has given her talents to numerous community groups and will be chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii next year.

That sense of giving is ingrained -- especially to youth-oriented organizations like scouting, YMCA, YWCA, child abuse prevention and education.

This year, there were a record 82 nominees for Forty Under 40 and the judging was done by representatives of Hawaii business schools. Bank of Hawaii again is the lead sponsor.

There is an overarching issue for the future for the business community. We need to continue working to ensure there are viable job opportunities for younger people to stay in Hawaii, to return home -- and to come here.

But, today, let's celebrate the moment. We have a great group of outstanding younger business leaders who understand how to do well in business here, who are excited about the potential and who are committed to making Hawaii a better place.

Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - September 8, 2003


© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.



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