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Hawai‘i Island Agriculture Partnership

Build Back Better Regional Challenge Coalition



Capacity Building to Support the

Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) Coalition


The goal of this project is to enable transformational economic development within the agricultural cluster through increased capacity to support coalition governance, research, data, policy, community engagement strategies, equity, and overall project impact evaluation. The shared vision is to build capacity to sustainably generate new jobs and income suited to the Island’s unique resources and communities. By forming inclusive governance through community inclusion processes grounded in indigenous knowledge and practices, innovating policies for sustainable development, having solid data and research to inform programs, braiding equity into the fibers of our coalition and partners missions, and attracting investment into the cluster, the County of Hawaiʻi Department of Research and Development aims for positive, cyclical, and equitable community outcomes that become a model for the state.

HIAP and The Coalition

HIAP started with a shared understanding that the island’s agriculture cluster needed to collaborate more if it is ever to compete in an increasingly globalized economy. The effort started with the Next Generation Sector Partnership model that has given HIAP its private sector led approach to collectively supporting the growth and prosperity of agriculture in Hawaiʻi County. HIAP commenced in 2019 with a set of action teams focused on value added processing capacity, workforce/entrepreneurial development, and shared branding and marketing strategies. In 2020, it commissioned an agriculture and food system study along with the Hawaiʻi Island Food Alliance (HIFA) to better understand the market systems that underpin the island’s agriculture and food market systems, and to determine how a centralized processing facility can enable more profitable growth for the island’s producers.


The study summarized the key needs and opportunities identified by stakeholders and listed recommended actions for transforming the cluster. Paired with the system study, a feasibility study was also produced for HIAP and HIFA, identifying a potential model for a centralized agricultural processing facility and Agricultural Innovation Park. These two studies were completed shortly before the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) released a notice for its Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grants and were used to guide an application submitted by the County of Hawaiʻi Department of Research and Development on behalf of a broad coalition of partners on the island.


US Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant

The EDA gave the County-led coalition a $500,000 Phase 1 award and the opportunity to apply for a Phase 2 award up to a maximum of $100 million over a four-year period. This was a significant achievement in itself as the coalition was one of 60 finalists out of a total of 529 applications submitted nationwide for this highly competitive grant. Over the period from August 2021 to May 2022, countless hours of personnel time were poured into working out the finer details of how HIAP’s strategies could be translated into a set of interconnected projects that could be funded by a single EDA grant. Sadly, the coalition was not successful in securing a Phase 2 award from the EDA. The extent of the effort and the existing project plans that have been developed however, provide sufficient encouragement to all of the coalition partners to continue their efforts in securing funding to continue this effort.

HIAP has played an integral role throughout that period.  Its establishment and three strategies formed the backstory and theory of change that underpinned the coalition’s application. HIAP action team meetings provided the stakeholder input and identified the breadth of stakeholder support for both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 applications. Part of the Phase 1 award is being used to incorporate HIAP as a 501(c)6 business league and set up its mechanisms for sharing interests and strategies amongst HIAP’s members. 

The BBBRC Phase 1 Grant and planning for the Phase 2 application provided HIAP with an opportunity to refine its strategies for shared action into a set of interrelated projects under a common theory of change.HIAP is establishing a database of indicators for its strategies, starting with those identified by the BBBRC coalition partners and by HIAP members in meetings and discussions. HIAP’s teams will review, revise and agree upon the set of indicators that will be used to measure progress against each output, outcome and objective described in the three strategies. A dashboard of these indicators will be displayed on HIAP’s website for members to follow. Targets will be set for each indicator and reviewed regularly by the teams as they coordinate plans and explore synergies. 

Action Teams

In 2019, HIAP commenced with four action teams. Two of those teams were subsequently combined into one and the resulting three action teams represent the three strategies described in HIAP’s strategic framework. Those strategies guided the development of the projects combined into the BBBRC Phase 1 and Phase 2 grant applications. 

The projects included in the Phase 2 grant application continue to seek funding, but new projects are also being identified and developed by HIAP members that need to be integrated into the strategy. HIAP needs to have effective mechanisms for continuously identifying and integrating new efforts into its shared strategies.

Facing the complexity of aligning several independent projects under a set of shared strategies, HIAP needs to add more complexity to its original concepts of action teams. As a result of its focus on the BBBRC grant application, HIAP’s action teams have gradually given way to the sets of projects fitting within each of its three strategies. HIAP now seeks to support those projects, and other independent projects and efforts within the island’s agriculture cluster, to find their space and their voice within the broader, shared strategies that their projects are contributing towards.

Shared Funding Opportunities

Since missing out on the Phase 2 BBBRC award, the coalition is determined to continue seeking funding for the extensive set of projects and plans that have been developed. Coalition members are already seeking alternative sources of funds and the County anticipates making a submission to the Hawaiʻi State legislature to fund the entire strategy.


Future Plans

HIAP, with its strategy teams and Board of Directors, provides a formal governance structure the BBBRC coalition can utilize for continuing to pursue funding opportunities and further integrating with other projects on the island that support the shared strategic objectives.  HIAP will continue to serve as a convener and facilitator of the coalition’s meetings and document its projects, plans and partners on a dedicated page on its website. HIAP will update this page as the coalition’s plans evolve, using it as a reference point for coalition members and interested donors.

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