Port votes to extend SEED contract

The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners has agreed to pay for another year of consultant Tim Botkin’s work on the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project, saying they have seen an impressive return on their investment so far.

“Last year, we invested $75,000 in the project, and so far we have gotten back more than $1.2 million, so that is a good investment,” said Commissioner Bill Mahan, referring to a $800,000 capital allocation from the state, and a probable $425,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The board’s vote at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon will allow port Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery to sign Botkin’s new contract for $115,000, which will stipulate that he create both a marketing plan and a technical design for the development and have the necessary people and plans in place to begin construction once the necessary funds become available.

While the largest piece, the state funding, is already available for the port’s use, the EDA grant has not been secured.

Last month, Botkin revealed that necessary paperwork had appeared to have been “lost in the shuffle,” but on Wednesday he told the board that the application process was back on track.

“The folks in (Washington), D.C., have approved the grant and we have been asked to submit a formal application,” Botkin said, explaining that the next crucial step will be ensuring that the EDA disbursement occurs during this fiscal year, and is not pushed over into 2007. “We really don’t want that to happen.”

If the money is ultimately pushed into next year, Attebery has said the port is prepared to invest more money to keep the project moving forward.

Now that the state funds are available, Botkin told the commissioners Wednesday he has assembled “a design team that is really anxious to get going.”

He said that as far as he was concerned, the energies of everyone involved in the project should be concentrated on constructing the first of the “pods” in the business campus, and on attracting “two or three businesses on the side.

“If we complete that,” he said, “we should have enough momentum to keep everything moving forward.”

The SEED project, which was originally pitched by Botkin to the port and was recently endorsed by the Kitsap Economic Development Council (KEDC), is conceptually planned for a 72-acre section of the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) and is already being touted by some as the project that may spark a clean technology cluster in Kitsap County.

The master plan includes creating modular “pods” using sustainable design criteria, which are ultimately expected to house 1,000 or more employees.

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