Business and government leaders celebrate Kitsap-King connection

Delegation visits here — via the fast ferry, of course — for two-day economic familiarization tour

BREMERTON — “Puget Sound is [no longer] a division, it’s a connection.”

With those words at the July 5 inaugural celebration for the fast ferry, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent defined what she called the new thinking in government and business in King and Kitsap County.

On July 13 and 14, the next step in that connectivity took place when more than 30 representatives of government, education and industry from the landward side of Puget Sound rode the new fast ferry over to tour the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas in what was being billed as an “in-state study mission,” according to the program. The event was co-sponsored by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Puget Sound Regional Council.

The goal was to “help them see the bigger picture,” said Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern, who has taken part in similar tours in the past.“Right now, King County is one of the top 10 economic engines in the United States. This will [introduce them] to what’s happening and what we’re up to.”

John Powers, executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance and a former mayor of Spokane, added, “We want to demonstrate to the region that Kitsap has a lot to offer. We want to show off our strengths … especially in the tech sector.”

Day one agenda

7:25 a.m.: The delegation rode the fast ferry from Seattle to Bremerton. During the 30-minute crossing, Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson and Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent made a presentation regarding “the partnerships it will take to make the ferry a success and why the new service is an economic game changer for Kitsap County,” according to Clauson and Lent.

8:15 a.m.: Upon arrival, the group was welcomed by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido and then bused to Naval Base Kitsap for a presentation on the state’s ship building and defense industries by Capt. Alan Shrader, commanding officer, Naval Base Kitsap, and a tour of the Trident Training Facility at Bangor.

“The Central Puget Sound is home to nearly 90,000 military personnel and defense employees, and Kitsap County has most dense concentration of defense-related industry in the state with more than 50 percent of employment tied to defense dollars. This spending and employment generates an overall annual economic impact of $6.1 billion dollars,” according to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.

11:30 a.m.: The group toured Suquamish Seafood Enterprises in Poulsbo and then went on to Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort for lunch and a presentation on the cultural resurgence and economic development of the Suquamish Tribe by Russell Steele, CEO, Port Madison Enterprises

2:15 p.m.: At the Poulsbo campus of Olympic College, representatives from Western Washington University were scheduled to introduce the delegation to the university’s new cybersecurity range. The range, which opens in fall, will be one of only nine cyber ranges in the nation.

Cyber ranges are closed clouds that are separate from the standard internet. This permits students to train, develop, and test cyber range technologies in a controlled environment. Universities from across the state, businesses, as well as the military, plan to participate in testing at this facility, according to WWU officials.

Scheduled presenters: Marlene Harlan, Western Washington University senior director of West Puget Sound; Dr. Earl Gibbonx, WWU vice provost for extended education; Dr. Erik Fretheim, director of the Computer and Information Systems Security Program; Dr. Sylvia Yang, director of the SEA Discovery Center in Poulsbo; and Dr. Damon Bell, vice president of Olympic College.

4 p.m.: Local officials were scheduled to talk about the collaborative campaign to raise funds to purchase the Port Gamble forest, which is six times the size of Seattle’s Discovery Park, according to officials.

The Port Gamble Forest is a local recreational jewel on the North Kitsap Peninsula, officials said, noting that the campaign is a local partnership between the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish Tribes, local governments and recreation, habitat and land trust interests.

Scheduled speakers: Crystie Kisler, co-founder of Finnriver Farm & Cider; Richard Tucker, executive director of the Jefferson Land Trust; Sarah Doyle, stewardship coordinator for the North Olympic Salmon Coalition; and Cara Loriz, executive director of Organic Seed Alliance.

5:30 p.m.: This was to be followed by a tour and reception at Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum. Speakers on agriculture and economic development in rural Washington included Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Verraes and Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean.

The delegates are scheduled to spend the night in downtown Port Angeles.

Day two agenda

8 a.m.: A panel discussion is scheduled on “Developing the Tourism Industry on the North Olympic Peninsula.” Panel members include moderator Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce; Michael Peters, CEO of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; Jeff Bohman, chairman of the Peninsula Trails Coalition; Bret Pfost, regional general manager of Aramark; and Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Steve Burke.

The delegation is expected to hear how today’s Olympic Peninsula economy relies less on production from historic sectors like timber, and more on a new set of industries such as health care, tourism, and professional and business services.

Afterward, the delegates are scheduled to visit the one-year-old Composite Recycling Technology Center in Port Angeles, the only facility in the world transforming uncured carbon fiber composite scraps bound for landfills into new products, according to officials. The center also houses Peninsula College’s Advanced Manufacturing — Composite Technology program that gives students classroom and hands-on training in advanced materials recycling and re-manufacturing techniques.

10 a.m.: Magna Force in Port Angeles is the site of the “Energy and Technology Innovations on the Peninsula” presentation. For more than 20 years, the company has been working to develop and perfect the technology for passive, permanent magnetic transportation.

11:30 a.m.: The group is expected to tour the site of the Elwha River restoration and dam removal project — one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in National Park Service history.

12:30 p.m.: Business development on the North Olympic Peninsula is the lunch program on the Port Angeles campus of Peninsula College. One topic of conversation was the North Olympic Legislative Alliance that will help regional groups speak with one voice in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

2:30 p.m.: The final presentation of the day will be “Cross-laminated Timber: the Future of Sustainable Forestry and High-rise Construction” — a topic highlighted recently on KOMO TV. The presentation will take place at Greywolf Elementary School in Sequim, where the state Department of Enterprise Services is piloting the use of CLT to build a classroom addition, officials said.

Following this presentation, the group will return to Bremerton and ride the fast ferry back to Seattle.

A large delegation

Members of the delegation included business, education, and elected officials.

From the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce: Markham McIntyre, chief of staff; Meaza Yalew, events and programs manager; Mindi Linquist, vice president of external affairs; and Scott Kennedy, external relations manager.

From the Puget Sound Regional Council: Josh Brown, executive director; Jason Thibedeau, principal economic development manager; and Emily Wittman, associate economic policy analyst.

From Washington State University: Annie Manning, policy and affairs coordinator for state relations; Chris Mulick, director of state relations; and Marcia Garrett, director of regional relations.

From University of Washington: Jillian Kilby, associate director of state relations; and Rick McPherson, lecturer of management.

From Western Washington University: Tim Szymanowski, associate vice president; and Christa Countryman, manager of corporate partnerships.

Elected officials: Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg, Lake Forest Park Deputy Mayor Catherine Stanford, and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

From U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s office: Shawn Bills, state director; and Colleen Bryan, Kitsap and Olympic Peninsula director.

Nonprofit organizations: Carol Rava, Technology Alliance CEO; Elizabeth Court, Olympic Workforce Development Council director; Eric Schinfeld, Port of Seattle senior manager; Geoff Lawrence, account executive for Impact Washington; and Roque Deherrera, business advocate, Office of Economic Development.

Private sector: Jill Mackie; senior vice president of public affairs for Vigor; Jonathan Hopkins, executive director of Commute Seattle; Katherine Mackinnon, consultant with Nyhus Communications LLC; Meadow Johnson, independent consultant; Michael Lee, Express Employment Professionals; Michaela Jellicoe, economics analyst for Community Attributes; Neil Strege, vice president of Washington Roundtable and Wendy Gillihan, Gryffin Consulting Inc.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at Kitsap News Group reporter Mark Krulish contributed to this report.