Hawaii Incentives and Workforce Development Guide

For a list of Hawaii economic development agencies that can help with the site selection process, visit our Online Site Seekers’ Guide.



CBED Micro-Loan Program: Part of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). CBED offers micro-loans up to $50,000, to eligible small businesses that support economic development in their communities.  DBEDT strives to help small businesses to develop viable, sustainable business ventures that serve local needs and are compatible with the vision, character and cultural values of their communities.

The CBED program can support a broad range of small businesses including:  Agricultural producers, Manufacturing businesses, Health/organic food stores and Hydroponics and aquaculture businesses.

Loans may be used for: Start-up costs and working capital; Construction or improvement of facilities; Purchase of equipment; Payment of production and marketing expenses including materials, labor and services.

Term: Up to 10 years

Interest Rate: Simple interest at 3% to 6% per annum

Consideration for loans under this chapter shall be extended only to applications from organization, small business or enterprise engaged in community-based development industries, including traditional industries that meet the following requirements: Not able to obtain a loan from private and/or other public financial institutions; Furnishes information to show that the applicant has the ability to repay the loan out of income from the business; Shall apply for all applicable licenses and permits; Shall satisfactorily demonstrate to the department that it can operate on a sound financial basis. For more information go to:  https://invest.hawaii.gov/business/cbed/.

GEMS Loan Program: The Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority’s (“HGIA”) GEMS Loan Program is bringing clean energy technologies to Hawaii’s underserved and hard-to-reach ratepayers by providing innovative financing products that result in electricity bill savings for participants. Administered by HGIA, the Green Energy Money $aver (“GEM$”) On-Bill Program provides low-cost, long-term, flexible financing, leveraging market driven public-private partnerships, that democratize clean energy by making clean energy improvements affordable and accessible to a broader cross-section of Hawaii’s ratepayers, while advancing the state’s goal of achieving 100% renewable portfolio standard in the electricity sector by 2045.

Financing is available to low and moderate-income homeowners, renters, small businesses (as defined as by the U.S. Small Business Administration size standards), nonprofits and multi-family rental projects to install residential solar hot water, solar PV, and commercial energy efficiency retrofits.

Features and Benefits:

  • Immediate bill savings.
  • Elimination of credit barriers.
  • Obligation tied to the utility meter (not person).
  • Up to 100% financing.
  • Payments conveniently made on monthly electric utility bill.
  • Project must be located within Hawaiian Electric Companies territories (Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Island of Hawaii).

Hawaii Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR): A $2.2 billion three-phased federal program that provides small businesses the opportunity to win federal R&D awards. Hawaii-based companies that receive federal Phase I feasibility study SBIR awards can apply for funds from HTDC’s Hawaii SBIR Matching Grant program. The matching grants provide up to 50% of the Phase I award to assist companies with enhancing their Phase I project development, compete for the more lucrative Phase II awards to typically conduct prototype development, and ultimately reach successful commercialization. Hawaii-based companies new to SBIR can apply for funds from HTDC’s Hawaii SBIR Phase 0 Grant program. The grant provides up to $3,000 to companies submitting a competitive Phase I SBIR application. The purpose of the Phase 0 Grant is to assist applicants strengthen their proposal, e.g. through professional grant writing assistance. This grant is open to Hawaii companies that have:

  1. a) Submitted fewer than three SBIR applications and
  2. b) demonstrate financial need.

Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC): An agency of the State of Hawaii established in 1990 to promote technology based economic development and economic diversification in the state through return driven investment programs in partnership with private capital. HSDC is precluded by law from investing in retail businesses, housing construction and the tourism sector. HSDC co-invests via a “fund of funds” approach and does not invest directly into companies. Investment programs target three key areas which comprise the major gaps in technology based economic development:

  • Supporting the establishment of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will provide mentoring, collaboration and funding opportunities for Hawaii entrepreneurs to establish and scale their business ventures;
  • Partnering research commercialization activities with state and private-industry programs to establish high-growth businesses; and
  • Networking Hawaii¹s high-growth businesses into the broader universe of mainland and international investment funds active in the sectors important to Hawaii.

Innovate Hawaii (IH): A federal program administered in Hawaii by the State’s High Technology Development Corporation and designed to bring best practices to small and medium-sized manufacturing and pre-manufacturing businesses at an affordable cost. IH helps manufacturers in all industries find, save and make money. It is a general practitioner, providing a wealth of knowledge and meeting various industry-specific needs (e.g., construction materials, management consulting, electronics, metals, secondary wood, textile).



Hawaii Renewable Energy Technologies Income Tax Credit for Solar and Wind Energy:  Single-family residences, multi-family residences, and commercial properties are eligible to claim an income tax credit of (i) 35% for solar energy systems (photovoltaic and solar water heating) or the cap amount determined by law (HRS 235-12.5), whichever is less; or, (ii) 20% for wind-powered energy systems or the cap amount determined by law (HRS 235-12.5), whichever is less. A new provision was added to the tax credits in June 2009 allowing the tax credit to be refundable under certain conditions. For solar energy systems, a taxpayer can reduce the eligible credit amount by 30%. If this reduced amount exceeds the amount of income taxes to be paid by the taxpayer, the excess credit will be refunded to the taxpayer. Consult with your tax advisor as to how this credit may pertain to your specific project.

Renewable Fuels Production Tax Credit: DBEDT is accepting notifications from renewable fuels producers planning to pursue Hawaii’s new renewable fuels production tax credit. Taxpayers wishing to claim the credit are required annually to provide written notification to DBEDT of their intent to begin production of renewable fuels. Additionally, they are required to file a notification 30 days before the start of production. Consult with your tax advisor as to how this credit may pertain to your specific project.

Hawaii Enterprise Zones Partnership: A joint state-county effort intended to stimulate—via tax and other incentives—certain types of business activity, job preservation and job creation in areas where they are most appropriate or most needed. Up to six zones can be designated per county. If a business (or a branch of business) is eligible and is located in an Enterprise Zone (EZ), it can reduce its state taxes and receive other county benefits for up to seven years by satisfying the EZ hiring and gross receipts requirements.

Motion Picture, Digital Media & Film Production Income Tax Credit: A refundable tax credit based on a production company¹s qualified Hawaii expenditures while producing a qualified film, television, commercial or digital media project. The credit was increased July 1, 2013 and now equals 20% of qualified production costs incurred on Oahu, and 25% of qualified production costs incurred on the neighbor islands (Hawaii Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai). The per production credit cap was also increased to $15 million per production. In 2017, the state required an annual cap of $50 million per year as the maximum available per calendar year and the tax credit program was extended to January 1, 2026. The $50 million annual spending ceiling is a rolling cap which means that once the aggregate $50 million has been reached, filers may claim from the subsequent year.  See the newly adopted Hawaii Administrative Rules for guidelines on the tax credit program at https://filmoffice.hawaii.gov/incentives-tax-credits/.

Research Activity Tax Credit: A refundable tax credit equal to 20% of increases in qualified research expenses incurred in Hawaii. Eligible research expenses are the same as those in sections 41 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), as that section was enacted on December 31, 2011, and in section 280C(c), IRC, provided that the expenses must be incurred in Hawaii. To qualify for the tax credit, the taxpayer must also claim a federal tax credit for the same expenditures. The tax credit is available for tax years beginning after December 31, 2012 and will sunset after December 31, 2019.

Royalties Tax Exemption: Royalties derived from performing arts products are excluded from a Hawaii taxpayer’s income and not subject to state income tax.



Hawaii State Energy Office Developer & Investor Center: The Center serves not only developers and investors, but all stakeholders engaged in the development of renewable energy projects in Hawaii such as regulators, landowners, communities, individuals, lawmakers, and organizations. Many public and private stakeholders contributed to these tools and resources. The Center’s tools and resources listed below support informed decision making early in the project design and planning phases to minimize negative project impacts and reduce project development costs, which can translate to lower electricity costs for Hawaii residents. The Center offers information on Project Permitting Assistance and Resources, Financing and Incentives for Renewable Energy Projects, Land Resources for Renewable Energy Projects, Utilities Resources, and Business Registration Resources, and offers these tools:

  • Hawaii Brightfields Initiative: The Hawaii Brightfields Initiative makes it easy for land owners, developers, community members, and policymakers to assess the renewable energy potential of contaminated sites and other previously developed parcels statewide in support of Hawaii’s clean energy future.
  • Hawaii Renewable Energy Projects Directory: The islands of Hawaii have an abundant variety of natural energy resources such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, biofuels, hydropower, and ocean energy. Use this interactive Directory to learn more about many of Hawaii’s existing and proposed renewable energy projects.
  • Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard: The Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard helps users identify the county, state, and federal permits that may be required for individual projects and produces a project-specific Permit Schedule with suggested permitting sequencing and timelines.
  • Renewable EnerGIS: Renewable EnerGIS supports the appropriate siting of renewable energy projects in Hawaii by providing energy resource and physical site information for sites selected by the user.
  • Renewable Fuels Production Tax Credit: DBEDT is accepting notifications from renewable fuels producers planning to pursue Hawaii’s new renewable fuels production tax credit. Taxpayers wishing to claim the credit are required annually to provide written notification to DBEDT of their intent to begin production of renewable fuels. Additionally, they are required to file a notification 30 days before the start of production. Consult with your tax advisor as to how this credit may pertain to your specific project.