National awards for UH Pacific Business Center Program

Five people standing, two holding certificates
From left: Jenny Mizutowicz, Rebecca Robinson, Kyle Stice, Tusi Avegalio and Jeff Sachse

The University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) won national recognition for two of its Multi-Purpose Business Incubator project partners at the University Economic Development Association’s (UEDA) 2022 Summit. The awards were presented in October in San Antonio, Texas.

The PBCP project titled, “Together We Can Go Far: Pacific Farmer Organizations as Drivers of Economic Development” in partnership with the Pacific Farmer Organizations took first in the Place category.

Pacific Farmer Organizations Executive Director Kyle Stice, with the encouragement of PBCP Director Tusi Avegalioreceived the national award on behalf of UH and of Oceania.

“Farmer organizations are leading some incredible initiatives in the Pacific that are resulting in real impacts and economic development in the agriculture sector,” Stice said. “It’s a remarkable achievement to be selected from among university programs around the United States. It’s not so much about acknowledging our organization, as it is about validating the model of farmer organizations as drivers of economic development. Academia and development partners are recognizing the role of farmer organizations in addressing the big issues of food security and climate change adaptation.”

Garnering the runner up award in the Talent category was the PBCP project partner Boom! Inc. submission titled, “Developing a Digital Economy in Yap.” Boom! Inc. is a telecommunications company in the Federated States of Micronesia, and is headed by technology entrepreneur Lubuw Falanruw, who is Indigenous Yapese. Having to depart prior to the UEDA announcements at the national conference, Falanruw was presented the UEDA certificate of excellence award by UH President David Lassner a week later at the PBCP co-sponsored Stars of Oceania and Breadfruit Summit at the Hawaii Convention Center.

“Promoting the University of HawaiiState of Hawaii, US Island Territories, Oceania, global islands and geo-insular communities with holistic solutions that weave traditional wisdom with modern science and technology is best done through competitive awards of recognition at the highest levels,” Avegalio said. “It brings these areas disparaged by the uninformed as ‘insular crumbs’ into the national conversation when salient among national peers in a competitive format. Both Pacific-centric national awards do just that by weaving the best of both worlds with a compelling influence for change to raise the common good with balance, harmony and ability.”

PBCP has placed five finalists consecutively from 2019 to 2022 with two named national winners, making it one of the most award-winning US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration university center programs in the nation.

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