Hawaii Island selected as finalist for up to $100 million grant to support farmers, help grow ag economy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) today announced that the Hawaii Island Coalition was named a finalist for the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge and will receive $500,000 to further develop a proposal for between $25 and $100 million in potential future grant funding.

If successful, the coalition would use the funds to create jobs, train workers, and expand the market reach of Hawaii Island’s farmers.


“This announcement is great news for the Big Island and the state,” Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “Investing in agriculture will create jobs, support families, and grow our local economy. I’ll do everything I can to get this application over the finish line and make sure Hawaii secures this federal funding.”

The Hawaii Island Coalition, led by Hawaii County, seeks to create a robust agricultural economy that corrects past systemic barriers to growth that are unique to islands, while also helping respond to economic downturns due to the pandemic and natural disasters.

The Hawaii Island Coalition is one of 60 finalists selected from 529 applications.

“The coalition aims to divert 20% of Hawaii’s food import market to local producers, creating thousands of new jobs and stimulating the specialty export market. If successful in securing the larger grant, the coalition would build an industrial park, train workers, and increase food processing and production capacity,” according to a news release from Schatz’s office.

The Economic Development Administration launched the Build Back Better Regional Challenge with funds provided by the American Rescue Plan. The challenge leverages $1 billion to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities, with 30 winners receiving grants worth between $25 million to $100 million to develop local initiatives.

For more, see Tuesday’s Tribune-Herald.

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