Reversing Hawaii’s Brain Drain

Chris Philpott

Published in Hawaii Business Magazine (December 2017). 

Tony Marzi is the kind of kamaaina that Hawaii’s business and community leaders hope will come home. The 32-year-old grew up on Hawaii Island, graduated in computer science from UH Hilo, founded a coworking space called Hawaii TechWorks, once ran for public office, and now has nearly a decade of professional experience in high tech.

Despite moving back twice to explore career opportunities, however, Marzi settled elsewhere. He recently accepted a job in Washington, D.C., managing a team of 80 within a global aerospace company, purchased a condo and will soon be joined by his girlfriend, a teacher from Honolulu.

“I know there are a lot of good folks who have made it work in Hawaii. But when your talented workforce must compromise between compensation and location, you’re going to lose a lot of good people. And ultimately it’s harmful to the business community,” he says.

Marzi’s journey reflects one of the state’s biggest challenges – brain drain – the departure of talented young adults for better opportunities elsewhere.

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