Local economic development leader gives encouragement and suggestions

The economy in Port Orchard and the surrounding area have shown positive signs, but local businesses can take measures to help stimulate the economy further, according to Bill Stewart, the Executive Director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.

Positive economic factors currently include an increase in government spending on defense contracts, a spike in new business license issues and job growth Stewart said.

Defense contracts, which represent almost 60 percent of the local economy, increased by $250 million from last year, and new business license issues are up to 200 per month.

Port Orchard’s taxable retail sales also increased, even though that number has declined continuously elsewhere across the state, and about 1,500 jobs came to the area at a time when the state lost 7,500.

To keep encouraging economic improvement in the future, Stewart suggested attracting a younger crowd with amenities designed for them.

“Companies are about people before products,” he said.

Olympic College is one resource that could be used more proactively to attract young people to local jobs, Stewart said.

Local businesses should also find ways to retain the large portion of the local talent pool that commute to Seattle every day for work, he said.

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