Hawaii Innovation Center tenants squeezed out

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Current tenants of the Hawaii Innovation Center are being asked to relocate to make room for University of Hawaii at Hilo offices.

Nine tenants at the downtown Hawaii Innovation Center need to relocate by this summer because the University of Hawaii at Hilo is moving university-affiliated programs into the building.

Kalei Rapoza, interim vice chancellor for administrative affairs, said in an email this week that UH-Hilo has offices currently located off campus in “non-UH-Hilo facilities which we would like to bring on to campus or place in UH-Hilo-owned facilities.”

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The Hawaii Small Business Development Center is among those offices slated to move over, Rapoza said. He said other relocations haven’t been finalized.

The Innovation Center, located in the former Bank of Hawaii building on Keawe Street, has been managed by UH-Hilo since 2009. It has served as a “small-business incubator first and foremost,” Rapoza said, granting priority tenant preference to new businesses requiring “business incubation services.”

He said UH-Hilo has accepted other tenants which support the small-business incubator concept or which provide community services if there are vacancies and “no potential new businesses interested in incubation services.”

Office spaces for rent ranged from 137 to 468 square feet. The building also has two conference rooms that were available for community rental.

Tenants were given notice in January, Rapoza said. They need to leave by July 31.

Tenants include H2K Driver Training Services driving school, Rider Levett Bucknall construction company, Pacific ProTech Services computer repair company and two nonprofits — the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce.

Miles Yoshioka, executive officer for the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, said this week the chamber is looking at other rental spaces in town and hopes to be relocated within “a couple months.”

“We’ve been here eight years now and the university has been very good to us,” Yoshioka said.

“And we’ve been very fortunate tenants have been able to use the conference room space at no cost. So it was a great deal for us.”

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Rapoza said the plan is to relocate university-affiliated programs to the Innovation Center toward the end of 2018.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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