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Stewart to step down from Kitsap Economic Development Alliance

Independent News Sources

Bill Stewart, executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) for the past three years, has announced his intent to retire at the end of September.

He made the announcement to the KEDA executive committee on Friday, with the full board being informed via email on Monday morning.

“My wife and I made this decision for personal reasons,” said Stewart. “I have truly enjoyed my time managing KEDA, and I am committed to further strengthening it before my tenure ends.”

Stewart, a former Eastern Washington newspaper publisher, came to KEDA after years with the state doing economic development work at CTED, which has since been renamed the Department of Commerce.

Under Stewart’s leadership, the agency helped keep more than $48 million in U.S. Navy and other government contract work from leaving Kitsap County in 2010.

The organization regularly puts on classes for local businesses to learn how to get involved with selling to the Navy, and other government organizations.

KEDA has also been heavily involved with recruiting companies to come to Kitsap.

It recently helped lure Profile Composites, a company that holds a patent for, and manufactures, a unique, lightweight, collapsible wheelchair made of composite materials, to the Port of Bremerton.

Elliot Gregg, president and CEO of Kitsap Credit Union and KEDA’s chairman of the board, said he accepted Stewart’s announcement with regret.

“For the past three years,” he said, “Bill’s knowledge and connections have provided us with one of the most effective periods for KEDA and its predecessor organization, the Kitsap Economic Development Council.”

The search for a new executive director will begin in earnest this summer, Gregg said, with the goal of completing the selection process prior to Stewart’s departure at the end of September.

Stewart will be involved in the selection of his replacement,

Stewart said he is very pleased with the development of the organization and its performance over the past three years, despite the difficult economic environment.

“Effective economic development demands that the public and private sectors come together and stay committed for the long haul,” he said. “I’m very optimistic about the future economic health of the Kitsap Peninsula, because of the strong leadership participation from business and government alike. Our membership base is very strong, and it continues to grow.”

Stewart said he believes the focus of KEDA’s work should continue to be supporting local employers, particularly in helping them access new customers and markets.

“When companies have business,” he said, “employees have work. It’s as simple — and as complex — as that.”

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