Regional no more: Development council gets a name change

After 22 years, the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council is no more. At last week’s annual meeting, council director David Porter announced it was dropping the “Regional” from its name and will now be known as the Kitsap Economic Development Council, or KEDC.

Porter said the revised name was both more appropriate and easier to pronounce.

The council, created with the purpose of attracting business to the region and helping businesses already here, reported a healthy financial year in 2004 with a $466,075 budget. Plans are more ambitious for 2005, with its budget projected at $505,000.

The annual meeting hosted Juli Wilkerson, director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, as its keynote speaker. Wilkerson addressed the need for similar communities to accurately transmit the message that will prompt people to visit and invest in the region.

“The secret to effective messaging is consistency, repetition and conviction,” she said, “There is so much noise and clutter. So you need to capitalize on your strengths and seize emerging opportunities. And community confidence attracts investment confidence.”

And one important aspect of transmitting the messages is its truth.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel also addressed the group, outlining three steps toward economic development.

She announced a new council to be directed by Kitsap Planning Commissioner Lary Coppola, to help explain in-place regulations to local businesses and new recruits. Secondly, the county and the KEDC will work together to expedite permit requests. “When businesses want to expand, they have a small window of opportunity,” Angel said.

Department of Community Development Director Cindy Baker, who oversees the county’s permitting process, supports the idea.

“I’m on board with this idea,” Baker said. “We’re currently working on a checklist, so when a company comes in with a permit application they don’t have to wait three weeks to get information. We’re working on giving answers more quickly so businesses can better take advantage of new opportunities.”

Angel’s third priority is to examine the Growth Management Act and determine where it can be changed or improved.

“The GMA lacks the flexibility to bring in new business or expand what you already have,” Angel said. “If we can address these three areas it will lay the foundation to accomplish the ideas we have for the county’s economic development.”

Porter outlined new KEDC efforts, which included a redesigned Web site, which will have the room for individual company profiles.

Additionally, he announced his attention to travel throughout Washington and persuade regional businesses to establish a Kitsap County presence.

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