According to First Hawaiian Bank's 2012-13 Economic Forecast report by Hawai'i Economist Dr. Leroy O. Laney, Maui is "No Ka 'Oi" among Neighbor Island economies.
Thanks to stronger job creation, a continued robust visitor industry and growing strength in construction, Maui is doing considerably better economically than the other Neighbor Islands, Dr. Laney said.
For the past couple of years, one of the biggest underlying messages about the state economy, according to Dr. Laney, has been the contrast between the recovering tourism sector and lagging construction.
Thanks to stronger job creation, a continued robust visitor industry and growing strength in construction, Maui is doing considerably better economically than the other Neighbor Islands, Dr. Leroy O. Laney said.
In 2012, for Maui at least, that message is changing.
Maui is the only Neighbor Island that exhibits much in the way of current or near-term growth prospects in the construction sector.
Maui construction jobs have shown an uptick recently--the only one of the four counties to see that kind of increase. This is one of the reasons for overall Maui job gains. Most of the construction is commercial, not residential, so it's mainly bigger contractors that are doing well, with some continued shakeout among smaller ones.
But there has been a striking 350 percent increase in private construction permits on Maui for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same quarter of 2011.
Any time one sees that kind of surge, said Dr. Laney, it's probably due to a few major projects. Projects include the Courtyard by Marriott, an Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) hotel, which had its grand opening in July. This $16.5-million, 138-room hotel minutes from Kahului Airport is well suited for several markets: interisland business travelers, state residents in sporting events, flight crews and visitors who miss or have delayed flights.
The property should do well, Dr. Laney said.
Another project is A&B's 179-acre Maui Business Park Phase II, zoned for light industrial use close to Kahului and near the harbor. Lot closings are anticipated for late 2012.
The Andaz Wailea hotel project, renovation of the shuttered Renaissance hotel as a boutique accommodation (part of the Hyatt Family), is due for an early 2013 opening.
Maui Lani Village Center is adding to existing tenants like Paradise Beverage, Oceanic Time Warner and the Mormon Church. In the building process are Walgreens and Ace Hardware.
Kaheawa Wind Farm Phase II added 14 more wind towers to the existing 20 on the ridge above Ma'alaea, Dr. Laney said. And 'Ulapalakua Auwahi wind farm has broken ground for eight more turbines on the slopes of Haleakala.
The master-planned Honua'ula project in Wailea received environmental approval in July. It envisions up to 1,150 housing units above Wailea Resort, a golf course, clubhouse and retail/commercial components, plus 250 affordable housing units off-site.
Also being planned is a Consolidated Car Rental Facility at the airport.
Next week, read "A Look at Sectors of the Maui Economy."