Business Incentives and Programs

Hawaii State Trade Expansion Program (HiSTEP)

DBEDT and SBA Logos

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Hawaii’s State Trade Expansion Program, known as HiSTEP, is built on a multifaceted approach to export development. The program begins with comprehensive export assistance, readiness, counseling and training that leads into a menu of targeted and individualized activities designed to generate new export sales for participating small businesses. The program is administered by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) which partners with several agencies and organizations to carry out HiSTEP. These partners include the Hawaii Pacific Export Council, U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Small Business Development Centers, Innovate Hawaii (High Technology Development Corporation), SBA Hawaii District Office, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, and the Foreign Trade Zone No. 9.

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 who have: a) Submitted fewer than three SBIR applications and b) demonstrate financial need.

High Technology Development Corporation – Innovate Hawaii

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.

Innovate Hawaii (IH) helps manufacturers in all industries find, save, and make money.  IH is a general practitioner, providing a wealth of knowledge and meeting various industry-specific needs. We have worked in food processing, agribusiness, construction materials, management consulting, SBIR/STTR grant assistance**, electronics, metals, secondary wood, textile, biotech and many other industries applying our expertise to a broad base of industries in Hawaii.

Motion Picture, Digital Media & Film Production Income Tax Credit

A refundable tax credit based on a production company’s 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 percent of qualified production costs incurred on Oahu, and 25 percent on the neighbor islands (Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai).  The credit cap was also increased from $8 million to $15 million per production.

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 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 Zones (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.

Developer & Investor Center

The Hawaii State Energy Office (SEO) provides an online Developer & Investor Center, a dynamic resource that informs users of contemporary issues facing renewable energy development in Hawaii today. 

The Center provides guidance on project permitting, local utility interconnection, Hawaii business registration, project financing and local incentives, local permitting consultants, and site acquisition in Hawaii.  It hosts A Guide to Renewable Energy Facility Permits in Hawaii and useful information (permit packets) for over 160 federal, state, and county permits, including process steps, estimated timelines and costs, agency contacts, and relevant laws and references.

The Center links to the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) e-Permitting Portal for online processing of DOH environmental permits and approvals (air, water, ground).  The Portal provides transparency into DOH permitting processes and empowers DOH to electronically manage its permitting forms and databases.  e-Permitting has been implemented in other states and serves as a model for other agencies considering electronic permit management.

Self-Help Energy Suite

SEO provides developers and investors with important technical assistance, permitting tools and local connections to accelerate a project’s journey to the marketplace, where the rewards will be felt statewide. Available online at, SEO’s Self-Help Energy Suite of tools can be used to help advance high impact, clean energy alternatives.

Renewable EnerGIS Map

Provides renewable energy resource and site information for specific Hawaii locations. It is intended to help landowners, developers, and policy makers understand the renewable energy potential of sites statewide.

Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard

Developed to help those proposing renewable energy projects understand the county, state and federal permits that may be required for their individual project. This tool works for projects ranging in size from residential solar installations to large utility-scale facilities. It is currently being upgraded to reflect current permitting requirements, improve user functions, and be available in an open source software environment.

Hawaii Renewable Energy Projects Directory

An interactive directory to find and learn about renewable energy projects in Hawaii. The directory lists projects statewide, showcasing the variety of renewable energy resources that are being harnessed to move us closer to reaching our overall clean energy goal.

Greensun Hawaii

To help Hawaii property owners (single- and multi-family, nonprofit and businesses) make energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits to their homes, apartment complexes and facilities, the State of Hawaii created GreenSun Hawaii, a credit enhancement program funded by a $2.72 million U.S. Department of Energy grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Administered by the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation (HCRC), the program provides local financial institutions with access to a loan loss reserve (LLR) which may cover up to 100% of actual losses, enabling participating lenders to extend loan availability to a larger pool of customers and offer more aggressive rates and terms.

GreenSun Hawaii can help to finance ENERGY STAR refrigerators and air conditioning systems, solar thermal hot water systems and solar electric photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential purposes. For non-residential purposes, the loan can be used to finance lighting and air conditioning retrofits and upgrades; solar thermal and solar electric (PV) systems; energy efficiency window, cool roof and other installations eligible for Hawaii Energy/KIUC rebates; and loan related fees. More information available at