Creating a locally based strategy for economic prosperity and resilience
By Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez
This year, the county is 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 about 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.
The CEDS is intended to create a locally based strategy for economic development and an environment for economic prosperity and resilience.
Hawai‘i counties have historically contracted our economic development boards to complete the required analysis and report. In our case, the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) achieved this objective by working with a network of connected businesses, suppliers and associates in a specific field that are all located in the same geographical area. This is referred to as a cluster-based process.
The 2016 CEDS was led by a strategy committee that identified the main economic clusters in Maui County driving the economy:
- Creative Industries
- Health and Wellness
- Science, Technology and Innovation
- Sports and Recreation
- the Visitor Industry.
In addition, geographical clusters for Hāna, Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i were identified, recognizing that economic priorities in these communities are unique.
We recently became acquainted with the CEDS as the Tourism Management and Economic Development Temporary Investigative Group discussed it as a useful resource for developing our economic strategy. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, since the council has been diligently focused on managing tourism, while simultaneously working to diversify our economy.
Regions are mandated to update their CEDS to qualify for EDA assistance under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. The EDA provides funding to each state, and the state allocates funding to each county. In addition, a CEDS is a prerequisite for designation by EDA as an Economic Development District.
Regulations governing the CEDS—found in Title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations at Section 303.7)—require the following in the CEDS document:
- Summary Background: A summary background of the economic conditions of 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 findings from the SWOT analysis and incorporate/integrate elements from other regional plans (land use and transportation, workforce development, etc.).
- Evaluation Framework: Performance measures used to evaluate the organization’s implementation of the CEDS and impact on the regional economy.
In addition, the guidance underscores the need to think beyond traditional job creation and embrace capacity building and broad-based wealth creation when developing goals, measurable objectives, actions and performance measures.
These requirements also highlight the need to undertake 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 job-driven workforce development, natural resource management and development and sustainable land use.
I invited MEDB to join the council members at my Jan. 26 Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting and to present on the CEDS while it is being updated. (Meeting link: https://tinyurl.com/CEDSmeeting.) At that meeting I requested that in addition to the required SWOT Analysis, SMART goals be included as well. SMART is an acronym used to guide goal setting (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-bound.).
The MEDB will be conducting community meetings to update a more actionable CEDS in the next few months. Please contact me if you would like to be more involved.
* Keani Rawlins-Fernandez is vice chair of the Maui County Council and chairs the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee . She holds the County Council seat for the Molokaʻi residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.