Business

Consortium gives Kitsap businesses a big boost

For Kitsap County entrepreneurs, many have a business idea but don’t know of the local services to make it successful.

For Bainbridge Islander Cathy Chadwick that was exactly the case.

She wanted to grow Japanese horseradish for more than 20 years but didn’t know where to start.

“I had years of thinking about all the products you could make with it and already knew how to grow it,” she said.

Steve Twiss, a biochemistry graduate of Washington State University, said he thought everyone in Kitsap County would be happy to pay to tap into his knowledge on enzyme connetics.

“I knew a lot about science and didn’t know a lot about business,” he said.

Nan Gehlan was no different. Although she already owned Kingston’s Ottercraft Aluminum Boats and Fabrication company, she knew she wanted it to grow.

All three are where they wanted to be on May 29, with the help of multiple entities that have now formed the Kitsap Business Development Consortium.

The KBDC, which officially formed in 2006, provides a free service to established and potential Kitsap business owners by referring them to the particular agencies that would help them succeed.

Chadwick now owns multiple land plots to grow and distribute her produce, Twiss owns Twiss Analytical, which tests water for biological and chemical contaminants, and Gehlan, contracted with Boeing and the Coast Guard, is expanding her marketing plan.

But all three happened upon Kitsap County services by a chance Google search or referral.

According to a recent study by the KBDC, those who wanted to start small businesses most widely looked to the services offered at local branch libraries or chambers of commerce.

However, the KBDC found 30 services that help small businesses from initial startup stages to expansion and increased revenue growth.

In 2007, KBDC received a $24,000 grant to complete a study in which 200 Kitsap County businesses were interviewed.

On Thursday, the consortium presented its findings to a packed room of business owners and service providers at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort.

“The 30 services we do have gives a good representation of where we are, what we lack and what’s redundant,” said Tim Thomson of KBDC, who also works at the Port of Bremerton.

Those forming the KBDC represent some of the major service providers such as Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, Small Business Development Center at Olympic College and Kitsap Couny Community Development Corp., to name a few.

Now the only problem is getting the information out in public, Thomson said.

Choosing the 200 out of the 10,500 business addresses in the county proved challenging

“How do you define a business? Some are underground, some aren’t legal,” said Arno Bergstrom of KBDC and WSU Extension.

According to the study, Bergstrom said the businesses interviewed in Kitsap were fairly happy with their locations except for those located in Port Orchard.

Overall, findings show Kitsap County is well-endowed to support business as 80 percent of businesses are optimistic about their future; and seven in 10 feel they are doing better business than three years ago.

Thomson said the KBDC studies will always be a work in progress because of a constant changing environment.

“I hope more people won’t have to Google or do their own research to find you (KBDC),” Gehlan said.

To see the completed findings on services available and completed survey results, visit www.olympic.edu/BusinessCommunity/SBDC/.

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