A brief history of the Lānaʻi Chamber of Commerce by Alberta de Jetley.
Core Four, a business planning course for aspiring entrepreneurs, was the “spark plug” that started the Lānaʻi Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, Barbara Lucas, the owner of Pele’s Other Garden, asked Susie Thieman, Executive Director of Lokahi Pacific, if she would be able teach the course here. Susie said yes, 12 people signed up for it, and after successfully completing the course, the graduates of the workshop formed the chamber with Barbara Lucas as its first chairperson.
Maui County Mayor Allen Arakawa seeded the new chamber with a donation of $5,000. The membership was small but actively participated in monthly meetings which were held at Canoes, the restaurant owned by Fergie and Ola Ferguson at that time.
At the chamber’s informal meetings, a coupon book for visitors arriving on Expeditions Ferry was proposed. Jason and Gail Allen spearheaded the project and developed a coupon book which visitors could use for transportation to and from Lānaʻi City on Castle & Cook’s shuttle busses.
However, with a recession looming over the entire country, many of the members could no longer participate in the monthly meetings and the chamber folded.
When one of Hawaii’s top business leaders, Mary Charles, acquired the lease on Hotel Lānaʻi, she organized a membership luncheon to see if business owners were willing to try to reactive the chamber. Realtor Sherri Williams also joined the effort but they were unable to generate enough interest in it.
In December 2008, Alberta de Jetley started a community newspaper, Lānaʻi Today. Many of the community’s businesses bought ads in the newspaper, and in 2009, she convinced them a Lānaʻi Chamber of Commerce would benefit the entire business community. A board of directors was elected, with Alberta as its Chair and Barbara Lucas as its Treasurer.
In 2012, the name, Lānaʻi Chamber of Commerce was officially registered with the State of Hawaii. However, the chamber was not a non-profit organization so Tri-Isle Resource, Conservation, and Development, a Maui-based non-profit, became its fiscal sponsor.
Teena Rasmuessen, Maui County’s Economic Development Executive Director, gave the chamber $5,000 in start-up funds. In 2013, the chamber published a community phone directory, a comprehensive guide to all of the Lānaʻi’s businesses and services.
By 2014, the County began to support Fridays night town parties to promote different communities. Lānaʻi’s popular 5th Fridayss began and Lānaʻi’s residents were joined by a full ferry-load of Maui visitors and residents at the popular street party. In addition to 5th Fridays, the chamber has supported annual Welcome Dinners for Lānaʻi School’s faculty, helped to facilitate small cruise ships visiting Lānaʻi for the day, and a variety of workshops with Maui Economic Development Corp. and other organizations.
The chamber was growing; the board decided to change its fiscal sponsorship to its original mentor, Susie Theiman, at Lokahi Pacific and started the long process of becoming its own legal entity.
Today, LCoC is striving with an elected board of directors chaired by Cindy Figguerres. Monique Bolo serves as a part-time administrative assistant, and both Alberta de Jetley and Barbara Lucas serve as advisory directors with the present board of directors who are:
- Alastair McAlpine, Director
- Charity Figuerres, Director
- Nelinia Cabiles, Director
- David Emig, Director (Alternate)
- Alberta de Jetley, Advisory Director
- Barbara Lucas, Advisory Director
LCoC launched a new website in May of 2020 with information on all of its members businesses, LCoC Events and Lānaʻi visitor information.
Former Lānaʻi resident and LCoC member, Jerimiah Littlepage, designed the chamber’s original logo and was one of the first 5th Fridays coordinators. We thank him for the beautiful logo and also say Mahalo to all of the others who have supported LCoC through the years.