Wednesday | December 13, 2017
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Downtown Hilo competes for new coat of paint


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A campaign to paint downtown Hilo’s “Main Street” has been buzzing around the Internet lately.

Benjamin Moore Paints is sponsoring a contest to repaint 20 communities across the U.S. and Canada in its “Main Street Matters” promotional contest, and Hilo is taking up a challenge

HPM Building Supply and the Downtown Hilo Improvement Association are asking residents to summon up their civic pride and cast their votes for Hilo to be chosen as one of the 20 biggest vote-getters.

HPM is the Hawaii Island distributor for Benjamin Moore Paints. “We kind of got the ball rolling,” said Lee Wilson, HPM marketing manager. HPM submitted the application for Hilo and was simply put in the running, he said. “We got the mayor’s office and the DIA on board.”

More than 100 communities have been nominated. Only two in Hawaii — Hilo and Haleiwa, Oahu — but they are competing among all the entries, not directly against one another. One or both could win, or neither one. States are not guaranteed a winner.

The program’s goal is to “re-energize local communities through revitalization and restoration projects,” according to the Benjamin Moore contest website (

The website promises “a complete paint job” for the winning main street, but Wilson doesn’t know exactly what that means yet.

How much paint, brushes and other applicators will the winning main street get? Who’s going to apply the paint? What gets painted? What color? Who decides?

“Those are all good questions,” Wilson said. He’s also trying to get a running count of the voting results so far, and he’s still waiting on Benjamin Moore, which has promised him answers.

However, none of that matters to Alice Moon, executive director for the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association.

“It’s not a big concern,” she said. “It’s their first time doing this. They’re bound to have some glitches.

“I’m just very pleased we got connected with Benjamin Moore on this. We doing a huge publicity campaign. We really appreciate HPM stepping up. It’d be great if we won,” Moon said.

Moon noted happily that several buildings in the downtown Hilo area are currently undergoing paint jobs irrespective of the Benjamin Moore contest. Some, like the S. Hata and Koehnen’s buildings are well-maintained, she said, while other buildings have not had a coat of paint in a long time.” said Moon. The DIA is also working with Sherwin-Williams, one of its newer members, on a program of discounts and workshops on transforming interiors and exteriors with fresh paint.

“People are looking up, talking about buildings, it’s great,” she said, “because of all attention being paid to downtown Hilo,”

“I hear a lot of buzz about it out there,” Wilson added.

Voting will be held until June 30, and participants can vote once a daily until the deadline. Visit and click on the Hawaii Islands icon.

“Brightening things up is always good,” Moon said.

Email Hunter Bishop at


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