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East Hawai‘i: 25 Aupuni Street, Suite 1301, Hilo, HI 96720

(808) 961-8366 | Fax: (808) 935-1205

West Hawai‘i: 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Bldg C, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 323-4700


DIRECTOR:  Kawehi Inaba


DESCRIPTION: The mission of the department is to provide pro-active leadership, enhancing the quality of life, and sustainability of Hawai‘i Island communities through programs related to: agriculture, energy, tourism, economic development, community development, and film.

Current Highlights

2016 Hawai‘i Tourism Authority County Product Enrichment Program

  • Proposals accepted beginning Monday, August 31, 2015
  • Deadline to apply: Friday, October 16, 2015, 4:30 p.m. HAST
  • See the Request for Proposals Addendum No. 1 and the Department’s Tourism Page for more information and forms

Coming soon: The Hawai‘i County Business Resource Center

The Department of Research and Development will open the first Hawai‘i County Business Resource Centers in our Hilo and Kailua-Kona offices in November 2015. Our goal is to provide information, support, and connection to services for both existing small business owners and to anyone thinking of starting a business in Hawai‘i County.

How to Start a Business in Hawai‘i County - a new resource guide to successful business development

To best serve our community we are inviting suggestions on the type of assistance entrepreneurs need most. Please help us by completing this brief survey. All responses will be confidential and will be used only to help us create the best services for our community. Mahalo for your assistance. 

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Enterprise Zone Information

About Enterprise Zones - The Enterprise Zone program is a state-county partnership that has been growing job opportunities on Hawai‘i Island for over 20 years by incentivizing business investment in areas with low income or high unemployment. 

  • Nearly 300 Hawai‘i Island businesses have participated in the Enterprise Zone program since 1994. 
  • In 2013, Enterprise Zone participating companies on Hawai‘i Island accounted for over $116 million in revenue and over 600 jobs.

The Enterprise Zone is an area within which businesses engaged in eligible activities can receive state and county tax incentives, provided they meet job growth goals (or revenue goals for agriculture businesses).

Businesses in an Enterprise Zone can participate in the program for seven years (ten for agriculture or manufacturing businesses).

Participating businesses are eligible for 100% exemption from state wholesale general excise tax (.5%), 20-80% non-refundable credit on state income tax, and a non-refundable state tax credit for the cost of unemployment insurance premiums. Businesses are also eligible for a three-year exemption from any increase in county property taxes resulting from new construction.

Enterprise Zone eligible activities include farming, ranching, agricultural processing, and certain kinds of high tech businesses.

The Enterprise Zone designation does not supersede any county zoning, state land use designation, building regulations, or any other regulations applicable to business operations.

We propose expanding the Enterprise Zones on Hawai‘i Island so that more of our local entrepreneurs can participate and realize the benefits of the program. With a minimum size of one full-time worker, even small family-owned businesses – family farms, for example – can participate.

Expanding Enterprise Zones will allow more businesses to create more jobs in the areas that need it most to support our working families.

Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Economic Development Grant Program Reporting Forms

Department Program Areas


Agriculture:  The Agriculture Program provides facilitative leadership to both the public and private sectors to support the sustainable development of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and other natural resources.

Business DevelopmentThe Business and Community Economic Development Program facilitates the development of a sustainable economy that enhances the standard of living of the residents and the economic viability of businesses in Hawai’i County.

EnergyThe Energy Program develops and initiates energy efficiency programs and renewable energy projects based on our renewable energy resources. Energy Program represents County of Hawaii by participating in State and utility energy planning and regulatory programs, various Energy Boards and maintains the County’s Energy Emergency Preparedness Plan.

FilmThe Big Island Film Office promotes and supports film production, expands the infrastructure to sustain production and builds a supportive climate between business, government, community, and filmmakers on Hawai`i Island.

Funding and Grant Resources: The Department of Research and Development provides tools and resources for county agencies and community partners to search for funding that will support their programs.

Information Resources:  The Information Resources Program collects, maintains and disseminates statistical, reference, and program information to County and State agencies, and the general public.

Tourism:  The Tourism Program provides active leadership to strengthen and enhance Hawai‘i Island’s visitor industry. Its efforts are directed by the by Hawaii Island Tourism Strategic Plan 2006-2015, which was created by a wide variety of industry stakeholders, government agencies and members of the community.

Closed Funding Opportunities