Initiative Aims To Boost West Jobs For Residents

Rep. Kymberly Pine

Leeward Coast residents received great news when the state Health and Planning Development Agency approved The Queen’s Medical Center’s purchase of HMC-West late this summer. The closure has been distressing both to residents who relied on HMC for medical care and emergency services, and the more than 1,000 employees who lost their jobs.

The economic impact was as detrimental to our community as the health impact. At a time when too many residents already were unemployed, the effects of the closure hit our Leeward families hard.

Queen’s plans to reopen the facility in August 2013, but I am urging the new owners to expedite the process, especially the emergency facilities. Thankfully, the process is moving forward to restore services and many positions for those out of work. But many people cannot afford to wait.

In an effort to help residents find employment in light of the HMC closure, my office partnered this summer with the West Oahu Women Social & Business Network to host the Leeward Job & Career Fair. The overwhelming turnout of job seekers was truly humbling with more than 3,000 area residents in attendance. The event was a remarkable example of what our community can accomplish when its residents come together for a common goal.

Many job seekers had success in making connections and finding employment at the fair, but our work is not done. The event renewed a discussion among job seekers, employers, educational and training institutions and policymakers. We must build a partnership to help our Leeward economy truly thrive.

The fair was only the beginning of our “Hire Leeward” effort. Over the coming months, I will further collaborate with local businesses and educational and training institutions to improve our residents’ prospects for finding employment on the Leeward side. I’ll continue to work with other community leaders to promote policies that will encourage large and small area businesses to open and provide jobs for our residents.

The idea is simple. Hire Leeward will begin to solve the two most important issues to our community: unemployment and traffic mitigation. The more that we can increase employment on the Leeward Coast, the further we can reduce rush hour traffic into town.

Affording our residents with more opportunities to work close to home will improve our quality of life, allowing for more time with our families instead of in our cars, and save on transportation costs.

As we move forward to reach this goal, I ask Leeward employers and job seekers to offer insight into their successes and challenges. In what areas have you had success?

What, in your experience, could make your search for the right job or the right employee more fruitful?

The job fair illustrated the astounding resilience of the Leeward Coast. But we are not finished. I am tremendously proud of Leeward residents and employers for coming together to find solutions. I’m confident that with enough hard work and collaboration, we will.

Contact state Rep. Kymberly Pine, R-District 43 (‘Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu’uloa) at