Governance center's impact studied

"Port Orchard city officials and business owners should have a better idea of how a proposed move of about 250 county jobs to Bremerton would affect the city when an economic impact study begun today is finished in April.The Kitsap County Commissioners Office hired Gregory Easton property counselors, a real estate research firm based in Seattle, earlier this month to conduct the study comparing the economic impact of moving to Bremerton with that of expanding in Port Orchard.One of the provisions the county required in the draft was that Gregory Easton not exceed $13,500 conducting the study.Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill said he has reviewed a draft copy of the scope of work the county proposes for the study, but said he could not comment because he has not had a chance to talk about it with the Port Orchard City Council.The study is scheduled to be completed and a draft report provided 60 days after it begins. County officials expect the first report sometime in April and will follow the findings with public meetings in May. Gregory Easton will conduct the economic impact analysis utilizing methods involving:* a review of current employment by sector and major employers for both Kitsap County and the city of Port Orchard, with a look at retail sales by sector and commercial development conditions;* a meeting with county representatives to examine the proposed changes in context of trends in employment by department, average wage data, current residential areas for county employees and a schedule for the proposed move; and,* surveys of county employees, courthouse visitors and representative Port Orchard businesses to gather information about the nature and amount of impact a move might have on the group. Surveys will include questions and interviews regarding employee spending before, during and after the workday; local purchases by the county for services and supplies in Port Orchard; and business conditions at venues like restaurants, convenience outlets and business service establishments to compare data.Once the economic information is collected and surveys and interviews are completed, the contractor will evaluate the data to assess the potential economic impact of moving offices to Bremerton and that of expanding in Port Orchard. In addition to examining the economic impact, the study will also review commuting patterns to get an idea of where county employees currently live and how a potential move might affect how many miles they would have to commute and traffic congestion.The economic impact study is part of the county's proposal to move 10 offices - about 250 jobs - to a 140,000-square-foot, roughly $28-$33 million governance office building in Bremerton as part of an effort to boost the ailing economy in Bremerton's downtown core.If the project is approved and built, it would house office space for city of Bremerton, Kitsap County, state and federal agencies, though county officials maintain nothing final has been decided. "

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