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Malama Na ‘Apapa to lay off workers

ANAHOLA — Malama Na ‘Apapa will lay off 19 workers hired with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant funding received from Kaua‘i County set to expire on Dec. 31.

During the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, Malama Na ‘Apapa was awarded $200,000 in additional funds from the CARES Act.

The predicament MNA is facing is just a microcosm of what small businesses bolstered by CARES Act funding will experience when grants expire, according to MNA Director Scott Bacon.

Essential business

Malama Na ‘Apapa achieved one of its main objectives for coral reef conservation and one part of their business’ mission statement, he said.

To date, MNA conducted 294 reef surveys, collecting baseline data to document the current state of the coral reefs surrounding Kaua‘i. “Malama Na ‘Apapa” means “Take Care of the Coral Reefs” in Hawaiian.

The information MNA collects will be used in future ocean-conservation-management decisions, Bacon said.

Sweat equity

Malama Na ‘Apapa had 107 volunteers who devoted 741 hours to remove debris.

The volunteers were crucial to the survival of MNA, according to Bacon.

“The community members, and also volunteers from many other organizations, have collaborated with us,” Bacon said. “In the short term, the grant has helped our nonprofit tremendously.”

The need for more

Because several small businesses and the employees who work for the smaller business are more dependent on CARES Act funding, Bacon anticipates there will be a substantial increase in the state and national unemployment rate come the end of the year.

“Our nonprofit will have to lay off all 19 workers who have been working with us under this project,” Bacon said. “I believe every business that was using the CARES Act funding will be in a similar situation.”

Bacon said there is more work to be done in the area of conservation.

“More funding would make it possible to continue these programs,” Bacon said. “This will help diversify our economic industry.”

Bacon is hoping that Kaua‘i County can come up with more money for his organization and other small businesses that are dependent on the funding for survival.

“Kaua‘i County secured more funding to make it possible to have more recovery programs such as ours,” Bacon said. “There is much more work to be done in ocean-conservation efforts on Kaua‘i.”

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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