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Bozeman’s recommendations on SEED project due Tuesday
Port of Bremerton CEO Cary Bozeman will advise the port commissioners on Tuesday morning to either pull the plug or resuscitate the controversial Sustainable Energy and Economic Development(SEED) project.
“We’ve been doing what any good business has to do,” he said of the proposed green business incubator. “We’ve been re-evaluating our business model to see if it’s still viable.
“I’ve done that,” he said, “and at this point I think we have a pretty good handle on what to do with the project.”
The meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton, will cap a 30-day period during which Bozeman has been evaluating SEED’s prospects following a June 30 report by port Chief Financial Officer Becky Swanson that the project would require millions more in public financing before it could ever hope to start earning money — assuming it ever did.
Even using a conservative estimate of nearly $9.5 million for SEED’s first building, Swanson estimated the port faces a $4.3-million shortfall after a $2.5-million federal Economic Development Administration grant and the required matching funds from the port — already accounted for in the budget — are subtracted.
“We need to find some funds out there to finish the project,” she said at the time.
She added that she believed the cost of the project would be at least $2 million more because of the need to build a manufacturing building as well.
“If you live in my world, the cost is $11.48 million,” Swanson said.
And once construction is completed, she estimated the building’s operating costs would run $404,000 a year — money the commissioners would have difficulty justifying given the project’s lack of a steady revenue stream.
“SEED has high potential, but we need to know we can carry it out with the port’s money,” Swanson said. “I support the SEED concept, but only if it is the right size and makes economic sense.”
“There’s no question (SEED) would put this company in financial jeopardy,” Bozeman agreed. “I need another 30 days, then I will bring back a recommendation of whether we go forward (with the project).”
On Tuesday, the commissioners will learn his recommendation.
At that point, “The commissioners can do whatever they decide to do,” Bozeman said. “But they understand the financial impact of the project, and their decision will take into consideration their responsibility to the taxpayers.”
The commissioners are scheduled to attend a study session at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, followed by the regular business meeting.
Independent reporter Justine Frederiksen contributed to this story.