A 2 Legged Stool Economy
Prior to the collapse of the sugar and pineapple industries Hawaii had what was called a three legged stool economy. That economy consisted of sugar/pineapple, tourism and military spending.
Though there is modern agricultural production there is no equivalent exportable commodity that the sugar/pine industry occupied. This leaves Hawaii dependent on tourism and the military, any decline of which, would send these islands into serious economic distress.
Any alternative industry would have to be based on a innovative manufacturing structure. If Hawaii had a modular home industry it could import material as needed but build homes for local occupancy and achieve both efficiency and economic benefit. A agricultural hemp industry would have to convert the raw materials (oil and fiber) into useful finished products, on island, for it to make economic sense.
Building a manufacturing infrastructure for either export of high quality items or for local consumption takes low cost energy, a qualified work force and a cooperative political environment.
Hawaii has been stalled on two of these fronts for decades. The negative impact of this can be particularly felt in the economic need for an ever increasing tourist count. It has been said that the benefit of 8 million plus tourist, adjusted for inflation and other factors, is the same as the benefit of a 4 million tourist count of thirty years ago.
There is a limit already achieved in many areas of the islands where this ever increasing number of visitors is having negative impact on communities.
Achieving greater economic diversity will take innovative leadership that has the ability to articulate the benefit of restoring as much diversity to the state economy as possible. We can see how seriously other states view this challenge as demonstrated in this Louisiana Economic Development website.
Achieving a goal of abundant and low cost energy, positive support for business and manufacturing and a unified approach to state wide economic development and diversity would benefit Hawaii for generations to come.