Port’s ‘Jobs Initiative’ a good start

On April 28, I attended the Port of Bremerton’s “Jobs Initiative” at the downtown Bremerton Convention Center.

On one hand I was very impressed by the attendance.

On the other hand, I was not so impressed by the lack of attendance of 35th District officials and the three Kitsap County commissioners.

If by chance you were there, sorry, but I must have missed your attendance in the crowd of over 200.

It was very interesting seeing and hearing what the Port of Bremerton’s CEO plans for economic development of the Port of Bremerton.

Bringing jobs into the county is a very good thing that will benefit everyone in one way or another. How that is done will be of even more importance.

How it is done will affect our lives and our families for many generations to come.

Some of the ideas or concepts I brought away were remarkable and deserve being addressed.

One idea of supporting Olympic College’s desire to have a four-year degree available is worth merit.

One thing that attracts a new business is the educated and technologically knowledgeable workforce available nearby.

A four-year institution would go far in suppling that work force.

Another is a strong commercial retail area that would attract further investment.

Whether it is in downtown Bremerton or Port Orchard, a strong commercial retail area would be of great benefit.

It would attract hotels, business centers, restaurants and the companies that support them to the area.

The concept of “quality of life” came up in more than one conversation.

Why work in Bremerton or Kitsap County? What does the area have to offer?

Parks, restaurants, nightlife, public transportation, parking and many things that have a slightly different meaning to the different generations that live in Kitsap.

How do we keep a workforce working and living in Kitsap County versus living here and working in King or Pierce County?

How do we make the quality of life attractive to multiple generations?

How do we pay for this quality of life?

One of the technological gizmos used was a remote-like device that recorded responses to questions shown on the screen.

The question was asked and multiple choices were given for possible responses.

One of the most interesting responses was to the question of ranking what should be the priorities for the Port of Bremerton.

Some of the choices were building infrastructure, building new buildings, reducing taxes collected by the port and a few others.

Some thought it strange that the top responses were dealing with spending money on infrastructure or buildings while reducing taxes was third or fourth.

To see why that was the response given by the 200, you would have to look at who attended.

Business owners, elected officials, property owners, executives from various companies and others with a great interest in a healthy economy and diverse environment for economic development were on hand.

As a taxpayer in the Bremerton Port District, you can guess what my top choice was.

I realize that money will need to be spent to allow us to attract “new” money and “new” business but, like many, I was not happy in how the Port of Bremerton managed that deal for the Bremerton Marina.

I hope that was a lesson learned for everyone in Kitsap.

I would like to thank Kemper Freeman, who was one of the speakers. His comments on commercial retail development were very interesting.

I hope many of those attending and those who did not attend will take Mr. Freeman’s advice.

It may be one part of a complete economic development plan, but it is a big part.

Brett Phillips was a very passionate speaker on green issues and sustainability. I was impressed.

What impressed me even more was that, while he looked like someone you would card at Chucky Cheese, he was very informative and knowledgeable and was indicative of the young professionals that Kitsap County needs to attract to not only live here, but start and sustain their businesses here.

This was a good start for the Port of Bremerton.

This is one piece in an economic development puzzle that has many pieces.

Other agencies in Kitsap, Bremerton, Port Orchard, the soon to be city of Silverdale, and others are trying to foster economic progress.

Some will compete against each other, some will work together remembering that at times the sum of the effort is greater than the individual efforts. We as taxpayers, voters and residents of Kitsap County have a vested interest in the outcome.

Get involved, get informed and communicate with your leadership at all levels.

Roger Gay is a South Kitsap resident.

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