Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Hoku Scientific, darling of the dailies, lands a big contract--for Idaho jobs

by Larry Geller

I’m not sure why they always make headlines in the two Honolulu daily papers. You’d think this was something good for Hawaii. I suggest it’s about time that we recognize that Hoku Scientific is really an Idaho company.

Today’s Star-Bulletin celebrates with the headline Hoku lands another contract, and yay, good for them.

A subsidiary of Hoku Scientific Inc. has signed a second contract with the same Chinese company - this one worth $227 million - for polysilicon production, bolstering financing for the Kapolei-based company's new Idaho plant.

Yup, more jobs for Idaho.

The company also has invested $47 million of its own cash into its Pocatello, Idaho, plant, bringing total funding to about $353 million. The $390 million plant is scheduled to begin commercial shipments in 2009.

The objective of Hawaii’s high-tech “revolution” should be to generate jobs in Hawaii.

Of course, venture capitalists hope their investments will pay off, but more often than not, the companies that win funding must move to the Mainland to become successful.

I suppose it’s ok that the papers keep highlighting Hoku’s Idaho successes. It keeps awareness going.

Maybe, when more tax breaks for corporations or other corporate welfare proposals reach the Hawaii State Legislature, we might encourage all those Idaho beneficiaries to send in testimony in grateful support. It would be the least they could do.


And how would Hawaii manufacturers compete internationally when shipping costs are outrageous due to the Jones act?

It's not just the Jones Act.

Hawaii is far from NY, LA, Tokyo, London, etc. It's far from customers, far from vendors. Far from Silicon or other valleys.

If someone wants to manufacture anything here, the parts need to be brought in, assembled (let's say) with high labor costs, and then shipped out again.

The Jones Act is certainly part of it, but there are other obstacles as well.

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