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Mahan: Port should put more money into marketing and outreach

Chief Executive Officer Cary Bozeman is moving forward with plans to hire someone to handle marketing/public relations for the Port of Bremerton, although two commissioners expressed concerns at a study session last week.

Bozeman said the port received 125 applications for job, which would call for marketing the port and its properties, along with handling press releases and other outreach. He said he expects to conduct interviews over the next 10 days.

Bozeman said paying the $65,000 salary — plus a $15,000 benefits package — would be a “minimal investment, considering the potential. This is a $16 million-dollar company, with no one in charge of marketing.”

Commissioner Bill Mahan agreed, saying that the port had adopted an ambitious public outreach policy, then let it languish.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell people you’re going to do something, then not make it happen,” Mahan said. “We passed the policy, and frankly, we’ve been very lax in falling through. If we really mean what we say in this policy, we need to put some resources towards it.”

Mahan said the port’s website — which he said “frankly, sucks” — needs to be much more interactive and updated daily, and the agency needed to be “much more aggressive” about reaching the public.

“I feel this position is crucial to the effectiveness of the port and for letting people know what the port is doing,” he said. “I don’t want to tell the public, ‘We wanted to be more transparent, but we didn’t want to put more money toward it.’”

“You can’t conquer a problem by throwing more money at it and hiring more people,” Commissioner Larry Stokes said. “Nobody seems to care about spending other people’s money.”

Stokes said if someone is hired, it should be on a “six-month trial basis, and if they don’t perform, they’re on the road.”

“We all care about the public’s money,” Bozeman responded. “Every day we talk about how to be more efficient.”

Commissioner Roger Zabinksi also expressed reservations about the position.

“I am concerned about how effective the person will be if the job is diluted into both a marketing and an outreach position,” Zabinski said, adding that he also wondered what the criteria for success would be, and if the port should be spending money for public relations now. “There is value to public relations, but these are tough economic times.”

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