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Excerpt from StarAdvertiser

New Jersey web designer Dante Moore said he was “stir crazy in the middle of a pandemic” when he spotted a catchy headline on a web post in December promising free airfare for a monthlong stint of remote work in Hawaii.

“It was a totally selfish reason at first. I was like, ‘Man, I want to get out of here,’” he recalled.

But as Moore, 55, learned more about the “Movers and Shakas” program and its volunteering requirements, and how COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on Hawaii’s tourism- dependent economy, he found the proposition even more appealing and applied for one of 50 slots in the inaugural cohort, which recently concluded.

“I have some skills that I may be able to contribute, and I have the circumstances to be able to work remotely because I’m in technology. Maybe I could contribute in some sort of way because the whole mission was besides tourism, how else can we build resilience in the Hawaii economy,” Moore said in a phone interview from his home in Burlington, N.J.

He was among nearly 90,000 applicants for Mover and Shakas, which plans to begin accepting applications in midsummer for its second cohort in the fall. Free airfare and hotel discounts notwithstanding, participants are expected to cover all other expenses including housing, further contributing to the economy, and to commit to volunteering with local nonprofits and business startups.

During his 30-day stay, Moore was paired with the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association and Native Hawaiian chambers of commerce to develop a mobile- friendly online directory of Native Hawaiian-owned businesses that is expected to launch this month.

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