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City tries to lure e-commerce firm with incentives

"Port Orchard City Council members have decided to offer incentives to a Fortune 500 e-commerce company that might build a call center in Kitsap County.The decision was reached Monday after Warren Olson, executive director of the Economic Development Council of Kitsap County, asked the city to do just that.At stake, Olson said, are 500 jobs paying $7.50 to $12 an hour. That could mean an additional annual salary base of $10 million in the county, he said.USA Networks, a New York-based company, wants to run a call center that could handle toll-free telephone inquiries, merchandise orders, technical support for products and reservations for a variety of businesses. Two possible 5-acre sites have been identified in Bremerton and Port Orchard, company officials said, although other sites outside of Kitsap County are being considered, as well. USA Networks wants to open the call center this spring.What's important here is that we don't want to necessarily compete with Bremerton on this, said City Councilman John Clauson. We would just like to see the company in Kitsap County.To keep USA Networks interested in Kitsap County, Olson asked government officials this week to consider offering incentives to the worldwide business.Port Orchard council members agreed to draft a letter that listed several incentive options. The city promised:* Not to implement a business and operation tax for as long as 10 years.* Reduce the telephone tax.* Help USA Networks apply for grant funding.* And support the company in a low-interest loan to build new facilities.Clauson, a member of the council's Finance Committee, clarified that USA Networks would apply for that low-interest loan by itself, while the city would submit a letter of support. That way, zero fiscal responsibility would befall the city.How much incentives will weigh on USA Networks' final decision is unkown. But Olson and other Economic Development Council officials have long touted a well-qualified and large workforce available in Kitsap County.The call center would rank about 14th on the EDC's list of the largest civilian employers in the county."

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