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When it comes to understanding Hawaiʻi’s economy and planning the state’s economic future, UHERO, the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization, has established itself as the premiere source for forecasts and analysis.

“It’s important for the decision makers and public and private sector to be able to rely on independent data analysis, and that’s what UHERO provides, especially for government decision makers,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz.

“It plays a very important role,” agreed State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the House Committee chair on finance. “It provides us another analytical assessment and maybe a preview into what’s going on locally and nationally.”

“What we are doing here is research driven dialogue,” said UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham. “We are opening up a dialogue with the local community and policy makers on topics that are incredibly important to Hawaiʻi.”

A great example is the inaugural UHERO Forum that included sessions on the economics of local food and understanding Hawaiʻi’s energy environment.

“I think it is an excellent forum,” said Sanford Friedman of Watts Up, a company that specializes in alternative energy products and financing. “I think it is a good time for people to collaborate with each other.”

“Having three presentations focusing on Hawaiʻi energy really highlights the importance of energy here,” said Makena Coffman, a UHERO research fellow and associate professor of urban and regional planning at UH Mānoa. “Our energy costs are astronomical.”

The forum was attended by many of the state’s top business leaders and policy makers along with respected economists from across the nation. That included keynote speakers Gene Huang, the chief economist and vice president of FedEx, and Christina Romer, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley and the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Barack Obama. Nationally and internationally respected in their fields, both say UHERO will continue to play an important role in shaping Hawaiʻi’s economic policies.

“I’m a great believer in the value of knowledge that I think every policy maker makes better decisions when they know more about what’s going on in the economy, what’s holding it back and what policies really help,” said Romer.

“Definitely, it is a critical component in understanding the Hawaiian economy and what is important,” said Huang.

The forum attendees agreed with that assessment of UHERO.

“It helps keep people informed about what’s going on with the local economy and how developments in the economy affects the individual person,” said Stephen Brown, the director of UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research.

“The kinds of expertise that UHERO actually contributes to the state’s understanding of where we need to go is absolutely critical for our future,” said Clyde Sakamoto, the chancellor of the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

For more information on UHERO and the organization’s data and analysis, go to their website.

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