Navy powers up city’s largest solar facility

An official “Flip the Switch” ceremony and Hawaiian blessing was held today to mark the completion of more than 4,300 solar panels installed at the Pearl City Solar Energy Facility. Capable of generating 1.23 megawatts of electricity, it is now the newest and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on O’ahu.

This project marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that developer Forest City Hawaii has completed in Honolulu, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the state.

At today’s ceremony, Jennifer Sabas, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, praised the project’s vision, and Governor Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing the state’s clean energy goals. These sentiments were echoed by other event attendees, including Jerrod Schreck, president of Hoku Solar, and Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, chairman of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and chairman of American Savings Bank.

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BizGym partners with Hong Kong accelerator

BizGym.com, an online rapid business plan building program based in Hawaii, has formed a partnership with CyberPort, the largest information technology accellerator in Hong Kong. The relationship was sparked by BizGym.com’s recent partnership in “Hawaii Tech Asia,” a business development tour organized by Hawaii Business and Entrepreneur Acceleration Mentors (HiBeam).

The two companies will create a Chinese language version of the BizGym online entrepreneur’s toolset, branding it as the “Cyberport Business System powered by BizGym.” It will feature team-matching, collaborative business planning and a direct link to Cyberport’s micro-fund application process. Operations will begin by year-end in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Cyberport is a government-owned enterprise, and when breaking news of the partnership on Hawaii Public Radio’s Bytemarks Cafe show last week, BizGym.com founder Steve Sue said that the co-branded arrangement with a prominent Hong Kong organization will likely discourage copycats from diluting the BizGym.com model in Asia.

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HECO streamlines solar power installation requirements

It will now be faster and simpler for many residential and some small commercial customers to receive approval for on-site solar photovoltaic installations without worrying about the need for a possible interconnection study, Hawaiian Electric announced today.

As of October 1, most residential and some commercial customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company can install certified single-phase PV systems up to 10 kW on single-phase transformers and participate in Net Energy Metering (NEM) with no interconnection study.

In addition, any customer of the three companies who paid for an interconnection study and system upgrades to install a 10 kW or smaller single-phase PV system will be refunded the cost of the study and any upgrades.

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Omidyar Fellows Program Announces First Class

The Hawai’i Leadership Forum announced today the 13 Fellows selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Omidyar Fellows program. Launched in May 2012, the Omidyar Fellows program was developed to inspire and equip emerging leaders with the skills needed to affect positive, lasting change in Hawai’i.

“Omidyar Fellows is a long-term investment in our shared future. We are eager to work with the 2012 class, exploring new ideas and thinking that may benefit Hawai’i,” said Pierre Omidyar, founder, Omidyar Fellows. “Hawai’i’s next generation of leaders will inherit huge challenges – some of them recent developments, some passed down from their predecessors. Effective leaders must address existing challenges and at the same time, create proactive measures that move Hawai’i forward – all while operating in an increasingly fast-paced and transparent world.”

More than 150 candidates completed a rigorous application process for the Omidyar Fellows inaugural class, representing a wide range of sectors including government, nonprofit, business, and labor unions. The class was designed to be representative of these sectors.

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Hawaii, other states reach antitrust settlement over ebook pricing

Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie, along with 53 attorneys general in other states, districts and U.S. territories, announced today that they have reached an antitrust settlement with three of the largest book publishers in the United States.

Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers to resolve antitrust claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books (E-books). They have also agreed to change the way they price E-books going forward.

The settlement occurs in conjunction with a civil antitrust lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.

The lawsuit alleges that the three settling publishers and two nonsettling publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, “conspired and agreed to increase retail E-book prices for all consumers” and “agreed to eliminate E-book retail price competition between E-book outlets, such that retail prices to consumers would be the same regardless of the outlet patronized by the consumer.”

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Hawaiian Airlines upgrades in-flight meals, hospitality

In the first comprehensive redesign of its domestic onboard service product in more than a decade, Hawaiian Airlines has cemented its signature ‘Mea Ho‘okipa Service’ as the gold standard in domestic air travel and the only authentic Hawaii experience in air travel.

Hawaiian’s ‘Mea Ho‘okipa’ (translation: I am host) inflight service philosophy has long been embraced by travelers for its celebration of the culture, people and Aloha Spirit of Hawaii. Reintroduced August 1 on all flights between Hawaii and its 11 gateway cities in North America, Hawaiian has taken its acclaimed inflight service and made it even more enjoyable with enticing new made-in-Hawaii products, Island-style complimentary meals and improved service offerings.

The new program was inspired by customer feedback, solicited by Hawaiian to further align its service with the things that customers value most in onboard service and amenities.

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Hawaii Apps company to tackle booming mobile business

A new local company has set its sights on no less than the top spot among Hawaii’s mobile app developers.

Today, Hawaii Apps Inc. is launching an Island-based business focusing only on the development of mobile apps to help local businesses, government agencies, community organizations and individuals “tap” into the marketing, advertising and entertainment potential of mobile apps.

“Mobile apps are where the world is going,” said Melialani “Meli” James, one of four principals who founded Hawaii Apps. “We want to offer Hawaii the chance to get in on the trend, for Island businesses and individuals to be able to create an app that will be developed right here in the Islands, by people who know Hawaii’s culture, traditions and lifestyle.”

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Wally Amos Returns to Cookies with ‘WAMOS’

Nationally renown, Honolulu-based entrepreneur Wally Amos is returning to the business that made him “Famous Amos.” He posted the announcement on Facebook, where he’d accumulated the maximum 5,000 friends, asking them in turn to spread the word.

“I am re-entering cookie business,” Amos wrote. ” I will sell three flavors from my original recipe; chocolate chip, butterscotch chip pecans, [and] chocolate chip pecans.”

Amos launched the “Famous Amos” brand of cookies in 1975, starting with a cookie store in California and growing to find space on supermarket shelves across the country. His name and likeness became so synonymous with success that he found a career in public speaking and authoring books. Amos even appeared as himself in an episode of the ABC sitcom “Taxi” in 1981.

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Kakaako incubator hatches Screenfuse service

A local group of entrepreneurs and developers yesterday unveiled ScreenFuse, an interactive social media display for businesses and special events.

The web-based service creates an attractive, live-updating screen that can show real-time social media activity connected to a store, restaurant, hotel, concert, or conference.

Screenfuse was developed in under a month by Hawaii-based web developer Evan Nagle, digital designer John Garcia, and L.A.-based entrepreneur Mike Prasad. The startup was incubated at The Greenhouse Innovation Hub in Kakaako.

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Algae demonstration commissioned at West Oahu refinery

Kuehnle AgroSystems, a producer of specialized algae strains and bulk concentrated algae designed to meet the diverse needs of the animal nutrition, specialty chemical and biofuels markets, has announced the commissioning of an algae demonstration project at the Chevron Hawaii refinery.

The demonstration project, funded by the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture and the Office of Naval Research, produces algae using recycled CO2 waste streams and wastewater by-product from Chevron’s refinery to cultivate algae in specially designed closed growing systems.

Chevron’s role in this project is to serve as a host site and a source of recycled CO2 and wastewater for KAS to conduct its research.

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Isle Realtors help Habitat for Humanity

“Realtor Raise: Project Playhouse” was held recently on the Big Island, a fun event to boost home ownership in Hawaii. Hawaii Life was one of four playhouse contributors, raising thousands of dollars to support the Habitat for Humanity mission.

The playhouses were generously donated, including the “Life Boat” from Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers. Wildly imaginative and solidly constructed, the playhouses were then given away to the lucky key holders. Leading up to and on the day of the event, key-chains were sold to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. The key-chains qualified the contributors to try their keys in the playhouse doors, and if they opened, they won the playhouse.

The Hawaii Island Board of Realtors (HIBR) also donated a playhouse to the fundraiser. Mealoha Kraus, who works in public relations with HIBR, “was overwhelmed by the number of people who came and waited for their turn to see if they had the right key.”

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PBS Hawaii wins $5 million grant for new studios

Hawaii’s only public television station today announced that The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation has awarded PBS Hawaii a $5 million grant to help the organization build a new home in Honolulu. The educational nonprofit organization has an urgent need for a new facility because it is losing its lease at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where it has occupied space for more than 40 years.

PBS Hawaii’s future home, located along Nimitz Highway at 315 Sand Island Access Road, will be named The Clarence T.C. Ching Campus. PBS Hawaii will renovate and expand an existing one-story building on the site and re-locate operations in 2014. The site, purchased in January 2009, formerly housed the KFVE Newsplex.

“The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation wants to see public television survive and thrive for the sake of future generations of Islanders,” said foundation trustee Kenneth Okamoto.

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Real estate technology conference comes to Honolulu

Plug in to the future of real estate! Inman News is bringing Agent Reboot to Honolulu, Hawaii with an all-new 2011 program on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheraton Waikiki.

In just six hours, real estate agents will learn from the best experts in the industry how they can make mobile, social, video, blogging and many more cutting-edge technologies work for their real estate business. Agent Reboot offers the specific, practical and tactical ideas to help make REALTORS thrive. Chris Smith, Chief Evangelist, Inman News, will take the stage as emcee for Agent Reboot Honolulu.

Additional national speakers include: Productivity Junkies Founder Darin Persinger, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate CEO Sherry Chris and Inman News’ Director of Social Media, Katie Lance.

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Fendi partners with local artists

Fendi, an Italian high fashion house with locations in Hawaii, is partnering with local artists as part of the global launch of a “handmade for the future” initiative.

The company has announced two separate and unique design projects with local artists Eli Baxter and Aaron Padilla to kick off its design-focused “Fatto a Mano for the Future” platform in Hawaii.

“Fatto a Mano for the Future” combines old world artisanship and modern day techniques through the collaboration, support and perpetuation of emerging contemporary artists.

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‘Local Ventures’ series moves to KFVE

More Local Ventures, Hawaii’s hit business show, moves to prime time on KFVE, Sundays every week at 6:30pm beginning June 26, 2011. More Local Ventures profiles local businesses and entrepreneurs who are transforming Hawaii in extraordinary ways.

“Like many local companies we support and encourage green & sustainable efforts,” states Edgy Lee, the Executive Producer of More Local Ventures. “Because we’re in media, to us this means supporting local businesses of all kinds so the concept of this series is really about featuring people who are preserving the beauty of our local lifestyle and folks who are pressing the envelope and finding innovative solutions in this changing economy.”

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Waikiki Edition Hotel owner sues Marriott

The owner of the Waikiki Edition Hotel in Honolulu has filed a lawsuit against Marriott International Inc. and boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, claiming that the hotel has been a failure due to gross mismanagement and Marriott’s inability to successfully launch the Edition brand.

The lawsuit seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages and the right to terminate the agreement with Marriott, the operator of the 353-room hotel.

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BJ Penn to open UFC Gym in Honolulu

UFC Gym announced today that it will partner with UFC superstar and former two-division champion BJ Penn to establish a signature BJ Penn fitness facility in the fighter’s home state of Hawaii.

The facility, which will begin enrolling members in Summer 2011, is set to open for workouts in January 2012, and will be located in the Kamehameha Schools Kaka‘ako neighborhood, at the former Pipeline Café on Pohukaina Street in Honolulu.

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Hawaii home to most Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander businesses

Hawaii led the nation in the number of businesses owned by Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in 2007, according to new findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.

In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders owned 11,383 businesses, or 30.0 percent of the national total of 37,957 Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms.

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Hawaii real estate market update

The Hawaii real estate market showed some signs of strength across the different islands, although foreclosures continued to exert increased influence on the housing sector.

In the first tracking period of the New Year, there were nearly two hundred single family properties purchased – an increase of more than eleven percent from the same period a year ago. Similarly, more than two hundred and fifty condo units changed hands during the first month of the year, representing an uptick of slightly less than ten percent from January 2010.

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