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Issue Position: Jobs and Supporting Business

Issue Position

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As we've learned during this recession, more must be done to ensure that economic prosperity is strong, sustainable, and the benefits are broadly shared. During this crisis and now as chart a path towards recovery, my top priority has been expanding opportunities and creating good jobs that will put people back to work and strengthen our state for the future.

For a stronger Hawaii, we need to focus on boosting job creation and supporting small businesses now while also laying the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy in the future. The cornerstone of these efforts is expanding access to education, supporting investments in innovation and infrastructure, and supporting long-term strategies to diversify our tourism industry and grow our food and energy self-sufficiency.

Tourism is Hawaii's number one industry, and 152,000 Hawaii residents -- about 19% of Hawaii's workforce -- are employed by the tourism industry in 2010. I'm working very hard to build support for measures that will allow Hawaii to take advantage of the expanding international visitor market. For example, I recently convinced my colleagues to include a measure I that would make Hong Kong eligible for the visa waiver program, a move that would open Hawaii as a destination to thousands of new visitors.

Our nation's global competitiveness relies on skilled workers and entrepreneurs, and providing quality education is critical to building a world-class workforce. A recent study found that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of jobs in Hawaii will require some type of post-secondary education or career training. That's why I am fighting for legislation that would expand access to quality early childhood legislation, as well as measures that would help boost achievement in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Small businesses are a major hub of economic growth in our islands, and I'm fighting for legislation that supports innovative small businesses growth through the Small Business Innovation Research programs and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. I also cosponsored the Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate, legislation that would help Hawaii small businesses compete with mainland online retailers.

Making smart investments in infrastructure can provide the foundation for economic growth and prosperity for decades to come. That's why I supported the 2011 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act that increases investments in Hawaii's busiest airports and the 2012 MAP-21 Act that supports Hawaii's highways and public transit systems. In the Senate, I will continue to look for ways to modernize our nation's infrastructure.


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