HONOLULU - We are keeping it all local this morning, with local products that benefit our local economy. Senator Mazie Hirono and Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii shared information regarding “Hawaii on the hill”.

In an interview they were asked,
Q: Can you tell us about Hawaii on the hill and why this initiative is so important?

In partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, we've had the opportunity to host Hawaii on the Hill for going on 5 years and it's been a great way to share the unique food, culture and industries of our state with my colleagues on the Hill. We create an experience that gives attendees a taste of what Hawaii has to offer, learn more about our products and industries, entice them to visit, and buy Hawaii-made goods and products. Hirono said.

Q: How has the event grown since its inception in 2014?

We started the Hawaii on the Hill initiative in 2014 with 30 companies from Hawaii traveling to DC and about 600 guests attending the Taste of Hawaii showcase event. This year, in our 5th year, we're going to have over 60 Hawaii businesses represented, with an anticipated 1,500+ guests experiencing our Taste of Hawaii.

Q. What effect does this event have on the hill?
The Taste of Hawaii, the showcase of Hawaii on the Hill, is the only event on the Hill where every guest receives, among other things, a lei greeting, thanks to The Orchid Lei Company, and a mai tai from Koloa Rum. We're also going be featuring tofu poke this year and, as always, our spam musubi. The fact that we're able to showcase a few things that make our state special, creates a unique experience for my colleagues and attendees.

Q: Why do you think the number of people participating in Hawaii on the hill grows every year?
Our Hawaii on the Hill event provides small businesses from Hawaii with the opportunity to showcase their goods and products in an environment they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to. It gives them a chance to get their product in front of a whole new market and potential customers. But, more than that, I think the Taste of Hawaii leaves a lasting impression on attendees. Menor-McNamara said.

Q: Can you share some successes that your members have had as a result in participating in Hawaii on the hill?
We've had many members share with us that their product sales and company exposure have increased significantly as a result of their participation in Hawaii on the Hill. Koloa Rum on Kauai, for example, has been able to expand their distribution to the east coast market. Salty Wahine, also on Kauai, is another great example. They have won multiple national spice and other competition awards in part from their exposure from Hawaii on the Hill. Both of these companies have been participating in Hawaii on the Hill every year since its inception.

Q. Tell us what you're most excited about on this 5th anniversary of Hawaii on the hill.
We're looking forward to a robust Policy Summit this year with panelists from the tourism, small business, defense and agriculture sectors who will provide an in-depth scope of what's happening on the Hill that will affect small businesses now and in the future. We're having a Welcome Reception at the Japanese Ambassador's residence. And, since we're celebrating our 5th year, we're sharing appreciation gifts and other special opportunities with our participants.

For more information visit: http://cochhawaii.org