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By Craig DeSilva

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (March 8, 2000 - PIDP/CPIS)---Businesses in the Pacific region that are interested in jumping onto the World Wide Web but don’t know where to turn for help may find assistance through the Asia Pacific Center for E-Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

The center, which is being proposed by the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Business Administration, was one of Hawai‘i Gov. Ben Cayetano’s highlights in his State-of-the-State speech in January.

If funding is approved by the state Legislature this year, the $1 million center would help companies in the Asia-Pacific region develop their businesses on the Internet.

"Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel, said over five years or probably sooner, every business will be an e-business," said David McClain, dean of UH’s College of Business Administration. "Existing businesses have to understand e-commerce."

McClain said e-commerce, or electronic commerce, would allow businesses in the Pacific to overcome the tyranny of distance, an obvious concern for many isolated countries and territories in the region.

"Businesses in the Pacific Islands are typically not large scale, but that doesn’t mean they can’t access a wide market," he said. "And that’s what e-commerce can do for them."

But just like any other brick-and-mortar business planning to take their company on the Web, careful planning must be involved. Businesses must first decide on what role the Internet will play: As an electronic brochure for advertising, or one that allows for on-line purchases.

Businesses must also be able to handle the possible increase in orders from the site and decide how much money they are going to invest into developing a Web page.

"Almost every business in the Pacific Islands will have to ask itself what do we want our e-commerce presence to be and how to relate with consumer, customers, and suppliers," he said. "If I’m running a fishing charter business in Palau, I think it would be interesting to have an Internet presence. It’s another distribution channel."

The proposed center would work in collaboration with the UH College of Business Administration’s Pacific Business Center by helping to promote business on the Internet. Developed in 1984, the Pacific Business Center already provides general consulting for companies in Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The Asia Pacific Center for E-Commerce and Entrepreneurship would provide programs, including:

If continued funding can be established, McClain is proposing three staff positions for the center that would work with the College’s existing faculty.

McClain said rapid growth in e-commerce has forced local businesses in the Pacific Islands to compete in the global market. And whether businesses in the Pacific choose to use the Web or not, one thing is clear: The Internet is here to stay.

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