- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - The Kohala Center on Hawaii’s Big Island has received a $2 million federal grant to develop an agricultural business accelerator.

The center will help farmers and food producers learn about business planning, financial strategies and marketing, West Hawaii Today reported (https://bit.ly/1paX7q3 ).

It will encourage farmers to branch out into making condiments, lotions, fiber, perfumes, organic salad mixes and specialty coffees.

The grant also will allow the center to bring in the island’s professional chefs to talk about products that are in high demand.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says the project is expected to save 39 jobs and create 28 new positions.

Farmers and food producers will learn to clean and package their products for retail.

The money also will be used to build a commercial and demonstration kitchen that can be used for live audiences or video production.

The grant is part of more than $5 million offered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for three projects around the state.

The funds also will support $3 million to build an Entrepreneurs Sandbox at the Kakaako Collaboration Center in Honolulu, and $72,000 for a Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii manufacturing initiative.

Designers are planning to start the accelerator project in January and it’s expected to be done in about two years.

Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono said the funds will help diversify local economies while creating jobs and a more sustainable economy. Supporting the accelerator is a smart move for the local economy, job market, farmers, consumers and sustainability efforts across the state, Gabbard said.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, https://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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