Economic Development Board building connections in Kitsap County

Board members gained firsthand look at region’s economy

Members of the Economic Development District (EDD) Board went on a tour of Kitsap County to visit economic points of interest in mid-June. Members learned firsthand about the specifics of Kitsap’s economy, the opportunities and challenges that are being addressed, and their connection to the region.

The day began with a ride on the Fast Ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, hosted by Kitsap Transit’s CEO John Clauson and EDD Board president and Port of Bremerton Commissioner Axel Strakeljahn. The group was welcomed at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside by Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. From there, attendees received a tour of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard from Rick Tift, the shipyard’s top civilian. Naval Base Kitsap provides over 45,000 jobs and generates $129 million in state and local tax revenues, as well as $1.9 billion in industry output.

The group heard about efforts to improve the Gorst Corridor, an important stretch of state highway in Kitsap County. The corridor is critical to goods and people movement and national security but is vulnerable to flooding and seismic events. Tour attendees visited the Bremerton National Airport and heard from Port of Bremerton’s CEO Jim Rothlin on current and future development projects.

The group then had lunch at Clearwater Casino, hosted by Chairman Leonard Forsman and the Suquamish Tribe. Joe Morrison of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance facilitated a lunch discussion that included Chairman Forsman, Rion Ramirez of Port Madison Enterprises, Chris Rieland of Pacific Northwest Title, and Richard Schwarz of SAFE Boats.

The day wrapped up with a driving tour of industrial areas on Bainbridge Island given by Mayor Joe Deets and Stefan Goldby of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce before attending a reception at the Fletcher Bay Winery Tasting Room in Winslow.

The day-long event was an opportunity for board members to connect and collaborate in person, with most meetings in the past two years taking place both virtually and in a hybrid format. A series of four tours is being planned, titled “Regional Connections”, covering each of the region’s counties over the next year and a half.

The Central Puget Sound Economic Development District Board is the governing board for the federally designated economic development district for King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Its members include representatives from private business, local governments, Tribes and trade organizations. The board is responsible for development and adoption of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.