KEDA plan aims to improve business community

BREMERTON — The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance passed its 2018 action plan at its regular meeting March 30.

KEDA is an organization that promotes economic opportunities throughout Kitsap. It provides free customized services to business clients in a confidential manner. Services it provides include business-to-business and business-to-government liaising; promoting Kitsap as a desirable place to do business; business consulting, and providing market research and statistical data.

“Kitsap County is a multi-faceted product,” John Powers, KEDA executive director, said.

“It is comprised of many many things, including its economy, and its economy is comprised of its many businesses that invest and employ here in Kitsap County. That product is a great product to take to market, whether it be local investors, across the sound in the I-5 corridor, or across the globe.”

Its annual action plan has goals in three major categories: business retention, expansion and recruitment (BRER); organizational and resource development (ORD); and communication, outreach and marketing (COM).

Highlights of the BRER goals include the goal of expanding the number of primary businesses in Kitsap County. To do this, the organization’s plan is to increase contact with existing local businesses and identify what stands in the way of their growth, as well as pinpointing small business trends to help promote the existing businesses.

“We’ll visit 150 local companies. We’ll look to support at least 1,500 jobs already in the marketplace, and we will look to assist over 175 companies — most of those already here — and some of them from the outside taking a look (at expanding to Kitsap),” Powers said.

“I believe Kitsap County [is] business friendly. The attitude we have here … attracts new [businesses].”

One of the main ORD goals is to improve client services and enhance their effectiveness via technology and staff development, according to KEDA officials.

This will be achieved through participation in industry training and increasing efficiency in their daily processes.

“Through these goals, and working with KEDA, we’re committed to being an active participant in industry training … efficiency in responding and reporting is important,” Monica Blackwood, board of directors chair, said.

“We have identified that as a key area to streamline and be more efficient in our ability to respond to your needs.”

Blackwood said that industry training, better technological tools and increased efficiency “will translate into a stronger message to companies looking to relocate here that our area is the right fit for them as they look to grow.”

Their communications and outreach goal includes better outreach and promotion of businesses. One goal is to promote business opportunities, foster regional relationships and provide timely market intelligence, with the hope that more businesses will open in Kitsap County. KEDA officials said it plans to work with Western Washington University for market intelligence and participate in local, regional, state and national organizations that may impact the economy and to promote Kitsap throughout the region.

“From my estimation … we offer the best value in this regional market,” Powers said. “We are the most affordable when you compare the cost of living and cost of business, and median household incomes. We rise right to the top. More competitive than King County, more competitive than our friends in Pierce. We have a lot to offer, and if you want balance, if you want to work where you want to live … you want to do it here.”

For more information about the KEDA 2018 Action Plan, visit

— Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at

— Terry Ward, regional publisher of the Bainbridge Island Review, North Kitsap Herald, Central Kitsap Reporter and Port Orchard Independent is a member of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance Board of Directors.