DIVERSIFYING OUR ECONOMY AND CREATING NEW JOBS
Chris has been successful helping to seed and build new economic drivers and creating new jobs that diversify our economy beyond tourism. Not only does this include replacing the $8 billion in imported food and energy with locally sourced sustainable alternatives as part of a circular economy, but it also means seeding new industries and jobs as well.
21st Century Agriculture
Hawaii imports nearly 80 percent of our food. Growing food locally instead of importing it can keep over a billion dollars in our local economy and transform old plantation agriculture into a thriving network of small farms producing local food, creating sustainable jobs for our next generation. A graduate of Class 13 of the Hawaii Agricultural Leadership Program, Chris worked with local farmers to write and pass the nation’s first tax credits to help farmers with up to $50,000 in assistance to grow local organic food. He also passed bills creating a grant program to subsidize the cost for farmers to acquire fresh compost, bills to help farmers reduce their cost of energy, programs to create compost and food production at public schools, and legislation to help increase the market for local produce. Chris secured $40,000 to help establish the Waimanalo Coop, creating a food hub for local farmers to distribute food to our community. And, he secured millions to fix and upgrade the Waimanalo irrigation system to increase water to local farms.
Modern Clean Energy Jobs
Chris helped champion and grow the clean energy industry in Hawaii, which has created thousands of new high-paying jobs. During the last recession a quarter of all building permits were for solar installations, employing countless local residents. Chris passed Hawaii’s groundbreaking law boosting clean energy jobs by requiring the transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2045. He also passed a law directing the state to eliminate fossil fuels for all ground transportation, boosting electric vehicle infrastructure and sales. When utilities began blocking startup solar companies from serving local families, Chris convened public hearings and passed a law that directed the utility to let more consumers take advantage of solar energy. Chris was honored to be named a national “Solar Champion” for this work. He was also named national “Best Policymaker” by the US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools for two laws he passed making Hawaii the first state to direct all public schools and universities to produce 100% of their own power from renewables by 2035, catalyzing hundreds of millions in investment into solar and clean energy projects. Finally, Chris passed a bill to help secure the financing for a sea-water air conditioning project that will use ocean water to cool numerous buildings in downtown Honolulu, creating significant investment and local work.
What most people don’t realize is that the fastest growing sector in sports is actually Esports. It’s the Olympics of competitive video games. Esports events in recent years have dwarfed traditional sporting events, selling out venues such as the Staples Center with online audiences of over 60 million people at a time watching players compete. Video game revenues in the United States now exceeds film and music sales – combined. Universities have established Esports scholarships and programs, and jobs in the industry are taking off. Chris passed Hawaii’s first Esports legislation to help the University of Hawaii create programs for our next generation in Esports, and signal to the global industry that digital Esports jobs and investment can be made here in the islands, which has already brought executives from top companies to Honolulu.
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