Small businesses and cabdrivers suffer because of the traffic and safety measures
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 15, 2011
Cabdrivers, some retailers and small businesses around the Hawai'i Convention Center missed out on sales during last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, while major hotels and companies that provided lighting, tents and other APEC essentials enjoyed a business boom.
But Dennis Young, rental manager for Hawaii Tents and Events, believes his company's profits from supplying tents for APEC security checkpoints will help companies that lost money.
"My guys are going home with some fat paychecks, while their wives are ticked because they've been working so hard," Young said. "So momma's going to go out and buy some stuff to keep the family happy. All that money's going to be redistributed throughout the community."
State Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai), who is also president and executive director of the Smart Business Hawaii organization, said, "The guy next door did well, and the guy next door to him did not. There was no rhyme or reason."
In general, Slom said, small businesses did poorly while big hotels profited from APEC functions and an uptick in room service.
"In terms of what was promised (in economic boost from APEC) and what was delivered," Slom said, "I don't think it matches up."
APEC supporters had projected a $123 million economic stimulus from APEC, but the APEC Host Committee head on Monday said "it's still too early to assess the exact numbers."
"From the beginning, we have always understood that the short-term economic gain was not the primary benefit of hosting APEC," Peter Ho, Hawaii Host Committee chairman, said in a statement Monday. "An event like APEC will always affect businesses in different ways. But we are pleased that some businesses have seen positive results during APEC Leaders' Week."
Dale Evans, the owner of Charley's Taxi, wasn't one of them.
The 200 drivers that Charley's dispatches lost money during APEC because of all of the traffic congestion, Evans said.
"It was terrible, the worst I've ever seen," she said. "How could we make money when we're stuck in traffic all the time? Revenue was way down and our drivers suffered enormously."
APEC helped several companies that operated inside security zones, such as Hawaii Media, which provided lighting for all of the major APEC events, such as President Barack Obama's only APEC news conference on Sunday at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort at Ko Olina.
Danny Rosner of Hawaii Media had so much APEC-related work that all of his dozen employees were busy and he had to rent equipment from his competitors.
"Anybody who did bad, it's not their fault," Rosner said. "It's unfortunate, but it doesn't mean APEC was not a good thing for Hawaii. It was a great thing for Hawaii. The rising tide lifts all boats -- that's what's being attempted here. The state was attempting to raise the tide."
APEC's labor needs meant good times for the unionized theatrical stage workers from IATSE mixed local 665, said business representative Henry Fordham.
"It's been a very fortunate, busy time for us," Fordham said.
With APEC in town, 70 to 120 union members were busy "working almost daily, certainly over the last week and almost over the last two weeks," he said.
The 200 employees of GP Roadway Solutions were also busy providing barricades, cones and fencing.
But with all of the extra employee hours and the need to ship in more material from Maui and Kauai, marketing manager Noel Perreira said it's too soon to tell whether GP Roadway Solutions ended up making money.
"We definitely appreciate the business, but I wouldn't say yet that we were profitable," he said.
GP Roadway Solutions provides fencing, cones and barricades for big events such as the Honolulu Marathon, Perreira said, but APEC "was like four marathons happening at one time. It was a lot of work."
Hawaii Tents and Events also had extra costs to fly in tents from the neighbor islands. The company also had to rent golf carts, trucks and forklifts.
And Hawaii Tents and Events could not hire enough workers to keep up with the changing checkpoints, which were kept secret until the last minute for security reasons.
"There was no available temporary labor anywhere on the island," Young said. "When we got one guy we ran him into the ground for 18 hours, and he didn't want to come back."
So did Hawaii Tents and Events make an APEC profit?
"We made money, but we spent a lot of money," Young said. "And we definitely had high labor costs."
Overall, Young said, APEC was a worthy investment "for Hawaii to showcase what we can do."