Business

Kitsap Economic Development Alliance chooses a new executive director

The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance–a private, nonprofit corporation that promotes local business–has chosen a new executive director.

Elliot Gregg the chairman of the group’s board of directors, said that the executive committee chose John Powers because, “his experience and credentials were superb.”

“KEDA is very fortunate to have John’s extensive leadership experience in both the public and private sectors,” Gregg said.

Powers got an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame’s school of business in 1974.

He began his professional career by starting an independent property and casualty insurance agency in Green County Wisconsin, an area with “more cows than people,” he says.

Shortly thereafter, he got involved in real estate.

“After seven years in the insurance finance real estate area, I wanted to go back and get some more education,” he said.

So, he and his wife, Bonnie, went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, in 1981, for graduate degrees.

Bonnie worked toward a degree in theology, and John earned his law degree in 1984.

He became a partner at Paine Hamblen, a commercial law firm, where he specialized in business reorganization for nearly 20 years.

Powers served on the board of governors for the Washington State Bar Association, and he had his “first foray into politics,” as Spokane’s mayor, starting when he was about 50-years-old.

“Before I became mayor, I saw economic developemt through the eyes of the business community,” he said, “but the city, itself, was not focused, really clearly focused, on the role the city could play in economic developement.”

But Powers knew that, “there’s a role that cities and local government entities play to serve businesses,” he said.

“The dynameic of the two working together is much more effective than the two working in silos.”

So, he established the city’s first office of economic development the city work with private businesses more effectively.

He worked as Spokane’s mayor for one four-year term.

Next, he was recruited to become the CEO of the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, where he implemented major changes to rebranded and restructure the organization.

Next, he led a team of 125 people through $500 million in annual transactions, at Colliers International, an international commercial real estate organization.

Powers grew the sales team 40 percent, and pushed the market position from 4th to 3rd.

“I was there two years,” Powers said. “The first year, we had a lot of successes, then, in 2008, the market froze, and there wasn’t money anywhere. Things didn’t grow at the rate people expected when I came in.”

So, he stopped working there and opened up  a small consultancy, to work with businesses and local entities on their economic development practices.

He was recruited to become the executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, by Bill Stewart, who has had the job for the last 3.5 years.

“Bill has done an outstanding job over his tenure over the last 3.5 years,” Gregg said. “I think my job is to build on that and respect it and make it even stronger–to bring some new perspectives and ideas into play.”

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