Bank of Hawaii Chairman, President and CEO Peter Ho said that Hawaii’s economy faces a myriad of challenges heading into 2021, but he does see some bright spots in what has been a very tough year.
“We’re starting to see things creep back ever so slowly,” Ho said this morning on Spotlight Hawaii. “We’re also 30 days into the Safe Travels program, which I think to date is showing to be pretty darn effective in managing the virus, while still allowing visitors to come in.”
Given the recent positive news about accelerated vaccine development and improved COVID-19 treatment options, Ho said we are likely halfway through the worst of the pandemic.
“We’re at halftime, call it. The good news is we’re half way through, the tougher news is people are tired and I get that. People are definitely emotionally, physically, psychologically, you know, they’re spent at this point and we still have a lot go ground to cover,” he said.
Ho also spoke about the recent estimate from DBEDT that found that 25% of all small businesses have closed in Hawaii. Many, if not most, will likely not be coming back. That makes bringing back tourists in a safe way all the more vital to the state’s financial health.
Bank of Hawaii has donated to a number of causes and organizations since the start of the pandemic to help the community, including $3 million to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Resilience Fund, the largest corporate gift to the fund. Last week, Bank of Hawaii announced it would pay $5 million for naming right of the Stan Sheriff Center. The 10,300-seat facility will become the SimpliFi Arena by Bank of Hawaii at Stan Sheriff Center.
UH Athletic Director David Matlin joined the livestream part way through, and said the money will make a meaningful difference for the program and student athletes for years to come.
“It’s a huge gift of hope. But also we have huge economic challenges just like everyone else. This will make a big difference for our students athletes and being able to really take care of some core essential needs,” Matlin said.
Matlin also spoke about what he expects athletics to look like in 2021, and the specific challenges COVID has brought on for teams and student athletes.
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.