90,000 people applied for the ‘Movers and Shakas’ program; first 50 selected

After a summer marked by a surge of coronavirus cases in Hawaii, officials plan to reboot the...
After a summer marked by a surge of coronavirus cases in Hawaii, officials plan to reboot the tourism based economy despite concerns about the state's pre-travel testing program. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)(Caleb Jones | AP)
Updated: Feb. 13, 2021 at 11:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first group of professionals have been chosen for a controversial program that would bring people from across the nation to Hawaii to work remotely.

Nearly 90,000 people from across the U.S. applied to be a part of the Movers and Shakas Program, which offers them a free trip to the islands.

The program was announced in December, and the first 50 people have been selected to be part of the first cohort. Organizers of the program say of the first 50, more than half are returning kama’aina.

One of them being Krist Wong-Yamamoto who currently resides in Utah. She works in corporate communications for an airline, and will be arriving at the end of this month and working remotely from her parent’s house in Nuuanu.

She says it was the perfect opportunity for her to return home.

“I’ve always wanted to come back home. Been here over 30 years and this just kind of was that little nudge (that) this could get me there,” she said.

Participants will also get hotel discounts if they stay for at least one month. Volunteer work of 15 hours minimum will also be required as they connect with other professionals on the island.

The long term goal of the program is to build resilience in Hawaii’s economy by further exploring remote work opportunities – especially in our tech and innovation sectors.

But others have come out against the program, questioning its effectiveness and asking if bringing people to an island state during a pandemic is a smart move.

Another program that would have achieved similar objectives with college students was called off back in August following community backlash.

[Read a previous report: Plans for a ‘college bubble’ at a Waikiki hotel are scrapped over community concerns]

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