My Turn: Astronomy enhances Hawaii Island’s economic diversity

//My Turn: Astronomy enhances Hawaii Island’s economic diversity

The latest tourism figures for Hawaii Island suggest that the island is continuing on its path to recover from last year’s devastating lava flows and severe weather. Astronomy will continue to be pivotal in helping to enhance the island’s economic diversity.

The idea of astronomy as an economic driver on Hawaii Island is not new. In fact, astronomy got its start on Hawaii Island as a direct result of the 1960 tsunami that devastated Hilo. Economically, Hilo was in shambles. Government, business and community leaders had to look for ways to emerge out of it. Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Secretary Mitsuo “Mits” Akiyama, a 442nd World War II veteran, took the lead to seek economic opportunities and was the driving force with Governor John A. Burns and state and local officials to establish a new scientific and economic enterprise, astronomy on Maunakea, in the early 1960s.

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