Oahu Publications / Honolulu Star-Advertiser honored with Mega-Innovation Award


On Tuesday morning at the Mega-Conference, the 2023 Mega-Innovation Award was presented to Oahu Publications and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for a program that completely eliminated credit card interchange fees in a recurring fashion.

The program delivered $1.3 million in annualized recurring savings to the bottom-line last year and enabled the enterprise to continue its mission of diversification, transformation and financial growth.

The entry was presented at the Mega-Conference by Aaron Kotarek, senior vice president, audience and operations, Oahu Publications.

Kotarek told America’s Newspapers that the savings from this program has enabled OPI to further invest capital into its core competency of gathering local, relevant and differentiated content. 

In addition to the company’s flagship newspaper, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, OPI’s portfolio also includes the Hawaii edition of USA TODAY, as well as three other daily newspapers on Kauai (The Garden Island) and the Big Island (West Hawaii Today in Kona and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo).

In the company’s entry, Kotarek wrote that this initiative "propelled OPI with the elimination of all the costs associated with accepting credit/debit cards.  Subscribers and advertisers who pay with cash, check, money order or bank draft avoid processing fees while others see a fee line item on their receipt or invoice.”

OPI also created a new division named Star-Merchant Services aimed at assisting small to medium sized businesses with eliminating their credit card fees.   Kotarek said, "Coming out of the pandemic and into an inflationary period, OPI viewed this as an act of goodwill, in hopes of improving the financial picture of struggling SMBs.  To date, OPI has worked with 137 SMBs statewide to eliminate these exorbitant and unnecessary fees from their books."

The company's entry further noted: "Star-Merchant Services also recently converted two of the largest car dealerships in the state over to the Cash Discount Program eliminating their processing fees in full. In return for our assistance with improving their bottom line(s), these two auto dealers spent over $100,000 in incremental advertising spend.  Thus, elevating this program into a novel and diversified revenue center.  To date, SMBs who took advantage of the Cash Discount Program, reinvested over $208,000 of their interchange fee savings back into the Star-Advertiser marketing machine to assist them with driving store traffic, spurring impulse purchases, cultivating brand awareness and improving sales lift."

Richner Communications also was recognized at the conference as a finalist for establishing Easy Tax Credits, a program designed to help local SMBs take advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The Richner Communications entry was presented by Zachary Richner, director of Richner Communications, and Stuart Richner, CEO.