April 5, 2024

County Office of Economic Development shares results of Maui Business Check survey

The County of Maui Office of Economic Development (OED) this week published the findings of its Maui Business Health Check survey. Conducted from January to February 2024, the survey garnered responses from 290 businesses, shedding light on the post-wildfire challenges faced by the Maui business community and offering insights for progress.

The full report can be viewed at www.mauinuistrong.info/feedback (refer to “Maui Business Health Check” under “Past Activities”).

Initiated by OED, the Maui Business Health Check survey aimed to gather feedback from businesses directly and indirectly impacted by the August 2023 wildfires. The objective was to facilitate a deeper understanding of the hurdles that businesses encounter and to pinpoint areas where support and resources are needed.

Among the total 290 survey participants,106 businesses were from Lahaina, representing a diverse range of industries. The top sectors included tourism and hospitality (27.6%); retail (22.8%); food and beverage (14.5%); and arts, culture and entertainment (11.4%).

Key findings include:

  • Of those who participated in the survey, 52.4% reported no change in their business location, 27.8% currently lack a physical space and 19.8% have relocated.
  • The top reasons for businesses relocating were: building was lost in fire (75%), unaffordable leases (8.9%) and fire damage/necessity for renovation (3.6%).
  • Out of 290 businesses, 37.6% are still evaluating the impact of the wildfires on their business plans, while 36.2% significantly scaled back but plan to rebuild on Maui.
  • Financially, 43.8% of businesses described themselves as “critical, on life support,” with only 3.1% reporting “doing great, feeling great.”
  • More than half of the businesses faced challenges in retaining or hiring employees, resulting in 1,936 job losses.
  • A few businesses were able to expand and hire new employees, with 788 hired since the wildfires.
  • Most Lahaina businesses expressed a desire to remain in West Maui, emphasizing the need for accessible office spaces and conducive environments for business operations.

Businesses also shared feedback on various topics ranging from commercial leases, financial assistance, taxes, marketing, communications, infrastructure and rebuilding.

Luana Mahi, OED director, thanked businesses for participating in the survey. “A heartfelt mahalo to the businesses that contributed to this vital Maui Health Check survey,” she said. “The wildfires have reshaped the operations of many local businesses, and surveys like this are instrumental in helping County and community stakeholders have a better understanding of the impact. Recognizing our businesses’ current needs and welcoming their feedback for potential solutions are crucial steps in advancing our island's recovery efforts now and in the future.”

For more OED resources for local businesses, visit the County website www.mauinuistrong.info.