Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced that the County of Maui has allocated more than $20 million in CARES Act funds toward recommendations made by his MauiCARES Task Force.
The MauiCARES Task Force consisted of more than 30 industry leaders, who identified areas of need and economic recovery opportunities during meetings from July 8 to Aug. 15, 2020. The team provided the Office of the Mayor recommendations for a number of programs and initiatives ranging from farm/ranch grants to support our county food system, to purchasing computers for students in virtual learning environments.
“I want to extend a deep mahalo to all our industry leaders for volunteering their time and effort to make these recommendations for the betterment of our community,” said Mayor Victorino. “My executive team and I carefully reviewed the numerous initiatives brought forth by the task force, and we sought to provide funding to as many of them as possible. There remains a great financial need for our residents and businesses, and we believe these funds will be key in helping them get through this pandemic.”
The MauiCARES Task Force developed its recommendations by focusing on areas eligible for CARES Act funding. This included workforce training, direct grants to businesses and individuals, distance learning and recovery planning/coordination.
The task force broke into six sector teams covering tourism and commerce; food and farm; healthcare; culture, arts and education; housing and construction; and environment. Decisions were guided by four key areas: immediate relief, jobs, duplication and geographic consideration.
“In partnership with members of the Mayor’s administration, this all-volunteer group enlisted the expertise of well-respected leaders in our community to develop proposals believed to offer the highest impact support to our residents,” said Karey Kapoi, MauiCARES Task Force lead facilitator. “It has been a privilege to work alongside these people, and I cannot thank them enough for their guidance, generosity of knowledge, and most of all, their shared commitment to Maui Nui and our people.”
The task force recommendations were broken into two rounds of funding. Round 1 of funding included $5.2 million toward the Adaptability Fund and $1.5 million toward the HealthCARES Hui partnership.
The Adaptability Fund, which is administered by Maui Economic Development Board, looks to support businesses and nonprofits with reopening safely, retooling operations and expanding customer markets virtually. Grants would be given to businesses and nonprofits to help modify operations, including physical space adaptations, expanding virtual platforms and investing into e-commerce.
HealthCARES Hui, which is administered by Hale Makua, is a countywide collaboration with various organizations to create healthcare jobs and expand services for kupuna and families. Funds will be spent on hiring and training staff, expanded nutritious food delivery and providing resources and care management.
Round 2 of funding from the task force recommendations has been allocated to a number of community needs through County partnerships and nonprofits. Mayor Victorino said more details on the various programs will be announced in the near future. Funding highlights include:
- Continuation of the Hawai’i Emergency Laulima Partnership (HELP) Program, which offers financial assistance for Maui County residents with essential needs such as food, personal hygiene, medicine, rent, mortgage, utility services, phone or internet services and car payments. This would be the fourth round of funding by the County, which has already committed a total of $10 million toward the program.
- Allocating additional funding to Maui Food Bank, Feed My Sheep and Salvation Army to assist the agencies with purchasing locally grown food and shelf stable products for residents in need. The additional funds would amount to about 8 million pounds of food for Maui County.
- Improving food security for residents and keiki across Maui County, including support for on-island farmers and producers, as well as hiring of staff to manage intake, packaging and distribution of food to residents.
- Developing internship program to fund paid-student internships to support businesses and nonprofits upgrade their communication, marketing and engagement strategies, while empowering a skilled new workforce through supervised on-the-job training.
- Providing temporary employment to residents who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 through environmental efforts, such as conservation/restoration work and improving community infrastructure.
- Supporting kupuna through virtual education and financial subsidies for personal care. Programs would also help increase independence and confidence through technology to help minimize isolation concerns and increase access to services.
- Funds to support local entertainers and artists to perform and stream live, while physically distancing.
- Continuation of the Farm Purchase Program. The program, which launched in April, is a partnership with Maui County Farm Bureau, Hawai’i Farmers Union United, local ranchers as well as farmers on Molokai and Lanai. The program purchases food from local farmers and ranchers, which helps them maintain their workforce and productivity, while providing food for people in need.