It was in 1893 that Peter Cushman Jones, a 60-year-old businessman, persuaded close friends Joseph Ballard Atherton and Charles Montague Cooke to join him in organizing a new bank in the Islands.
Four years later on December 27, 1897, Bank of Hawaii became the first chartered and incorporated bank to do business in the Republic of Hawaii. The charter was issued by James A. King, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Hawaii, and signed by Sanford Ballard Dole, president of the Republic. Bank of Hawaii operated its first office from a two-story wooden building in downtown Honolulu.
Shaping Hawaii’s Economic Landscape
Bank of Hawaii played an important role in Hawaii’s transition from a territory to a state, remaining at the forefront of expansion. During the 1960s and 1970s, Bank of Hawaii’s growth kept pace with that of the state which provided major support to local agriculture.
Over the years, Hawaii’s service-based economy minimized abrupt changes in the local economy from recessionary periods, compared to states dependent upon manufacturing. Still, Bank of Hawaii saw the need to diversify its customer base beyond Hawaii to reduce vulnerabilities. Bank of Hawaii saw future growth and increased profitability in international banking opportunities. Hawaii’s strategic location in the Pacific made the Asia-Pacific region a natural extension for Bank of Hawaii’s operations.
In the 1970s, the Pacific Rim Region was indeed promising, with trade between the U.S. and Asia outpacing trade between the U.S. and Europe. Over the next 20 years, Bank of Hawaii would establish an international presence to better serve local customers with operations in the Pacific.
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