There was no mention of manufacturing in new Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s State of the State address delivered last Monday, Jan. 24.

To be fair to the governor, a former U.S. House member, the manufacturing sector in Hawaii is small in comparison to other states. High energy and transportation costs inhibit industrial expansion. Still, in 2009, Hawaii was home to  1,196 manufacturers employing 24,157 workers.

And why wouldn’t the governor at least mention “competitiveness?”

Abercrombie does make infrastructure a priority in order “to ensure broad distribution of economic benefits.”

I propose the New Day Work Projects. In the time I have been in office, our team has been preparing to launch the central part of our economic strategy—a broad ranged series of capital improvement actions to be called the New Day Work Projects.

The New Day Work Projects will directly attack unemployment and jumpstart business activity. It will provide an economic boost that will reverberate throughout the state. We will utilize the bonding power of the state, partner with willing private parties, streamline processes, and provide work that will result in paychecks for families across our islands.

We will take a systematic and integrated approach to the New Day Work Projects to ensure broad distribution of economic benefits, and we will be thoughtful about the projects we select to make sure they match our long-term priorities.

Otherwise, it looks like the business of Hawaii is government.

In meetings with other governors across the country, I have met some who have an ideological problem with utilizing resources from the federal government and collaborating with our President. We, of course, have no such problem. After all, federal dollars are our tax dollars, and we should pursue our fair share vigorously and strategically. Barack Obama is our President, and his vision is well aligned with ours.

The Hawaii Fair Share Initiative led by Lieutenant Governor Schatz, represents an unprecedented effort to bring in additional dollars to Hawaii. Here are two examples of what’s already been accomplished:

First, we’ve positioned Hawaii to receive nearly $100 million in new federal dollars in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 to be used for military facility upgrades and veteran cemetery improvements across the state. By coming up with a little over $12 million in state funds, we’ll get an 8 to 1 return on our investment for critical capital improvement projects across Hawaii.

As another example, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Department of Human Services are partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs led by Hawaii’s own Eric Shinseki and Tammy Duckworth. This partnership will help community-based organizations secure funds to address homeless veterans. With this new partnership, there will be additional federal resources available to make sure that we are working in a strategic and humane fashion to solve this problem.

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