Courtship makes sense even if Boeing says no

Give the Port of Bremerton credit for setting its sights high.

At a meeting of the board of commissioners last month, it came out that they’re interested in bringing a factory for the Boeing 737 jetliner’s successor to the South Kitsap Industrial Area near the Bremerton National Airport.

Whether Boeing returns that interest is, of course, a far different matter.

“All options are on the table, but right now we’re not in any position to talk about this kind of stuff,” said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel. “It’s too early to even talk about it because we haven’t made any decisions about what our next product is going to be.”

In corporate-speak, that might be the equivalent of, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” But so what?

Would the port lose anything by trying?

No. And in some ways it could win even if it does lose.

For example, the recruiting techniques it would need to develop to bring down big game like Boeing could easily be applied to overwhelm smaller companies the port has a more realistic chance of landing.

The good news is that in making overtures to Boeing, the port seems to finally be concentrating its energies on entities that have the potential to bring actual private-sector jobs that pay for themselves to the region.

For anyone who lived through the maddening years during which the commissioners thought the answer was turning SKIA into an incubator for green technology startups, the idea of competing for companies that already have a track record of success and don’t require huge public subsidies makes the whole process seem so much more ... businesslike.

If the commissioners have started thinking of the port as an economic engine for the region instead of vehicle with which to pursue their own narrow political agenda and reward cronies, that’s a very positive development.

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