By Léo Azambuja
In November 2005, the Kaua‘i County Council passed a bill creating the Kaua‘i Made program, a certification process for products manufactured on Kaua‘i. The program went into effect the following year, under the county Office of Economic Development.
Ten years later, the Kaua‘i Made program continues to grow, with 134 products achieving certification last year.
“It’s growing, it’s getting more exposure now,” said program coordinator Melissia Sugai, adding that former OED Director Beth Tokioka was the inspiration for the program. “She called it her baby.”
To be able to use the trademark-protected Kaua‘i Made logo, businesses must apply with OED and go through a process. The benefits are numerous.
Businesses that get into the program are invited to two exclusive events each year; a trade show in October and a holiday craft fair at Kaua‘i Community College in December. Program participants also get free advertising from OED’s official shopping guide.
Sugai said the program is open to businesses of all sizes and aspirations. There small businesses that want to remain small, and those that want to expand their reach beyond our island. Regardless of the size, OED makes sure to cater to all of them, Sugai said.
The program, she said, is making a difference on Kaua‘i and bringing the community together. Participating businesses, even similar businesses, seem so support each other rather than compete.
Sugai said OED is also working with the County of Kaua‘i Sunshine Markets to make sure farmers who manufacture added value products get into the program.
“As a local myself, I try to look for local products,” said Sugai, adding for the most part they tend to be a little bit more expensive, but their quality and value are worth it.
Applications can be filled at OED at the Mo‘ikeha Building in Lihu‘e, or at www.kauai.gov/OED.
The process is fairly simple. After the application is submitted, applicants should call Sugai at 241-4947 to schedule an interview.
“Basically, it’s seating with me for an hour and telling me your story,” Sugai said.
She will put together a summary, do some cross references to make sure the product is original and send a package to someone else for further review and final approval.