Port says oui to CEO’s Paris trip

After a restructuring and downsizing move last month that eliminated five jobs at the Port of Bremerton, port commissioners have decided to send the port’s CEO to the Paris Air Show in June.

In an agreement reached at the port meeting this week, CEO Tim Thomson was given the go-ahead to attend the air show on June 17-23 at an estimated cost of $5,600. Thomson will attend with John Powers. Together the two co-chair the Kitsap Aerospace and Defense Alliance (KADA), which is a public-private consortium aimed at bringing aerospace business to the port’s properties and Kitsap County.

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Larry Stokes said he had had conversations with Thomson about attending the show at the request of Powers. He said while Thomson told him he thought he shouldn’t because of the current belt-tightening taking place in the port’s operations, Stokes wanted Thomson to attend.

“I feel he needs to sell our airport,” Stokes said. “He needs to go there and show our stuff.”

Commissioner Roger Zabinski agreed.

“It’s an investment that I would support,” he said.

Commissioner Axel Strakeljohn said he thought it was an important part of doing business, even in lean times.

“I respect your (Thomson) position and I support this,” he said. “We would be remiss not to continue to market the port properties abroad. But this needs to be a trip where we are making contacts and doing business.”

The Paris Air show is termed the “World’s Leading Air Exhibit” and is important to this state because of the prominence of the Boeing Co. in Washington, Thomson said. The state annually sends a delegation led by the governor.

“It’s an opportunity for the Kitsap area to establish itself as a player,” he said. “Everyone knows about Boeing Field in Seattle and Paine Field in Everett. But not everybody knows that Kitsap County has aviation development land.”

Thomson said with the land available through port properties, he hopes to find connections at the air show to attract businesses that are sub-contractors or who make parts for Boeing commercial airplanes to locate here.

“Commercial aviation is growing in the state,” he said. “One of the reasons why we formed KADA is to promote the land that we have available -- to make sure that people understand the opportunity we present. That is why we feel there is value to this show.”

As for the cost of going when the port’s budget is tight, Thomson said, “I’m going because I was asked to go by the aerospace alliance and the commissioners. The commissioners understand that I have the qualifications to properly represent the port.”

Powers said his trip will be paid for through KADA marketing funds.

“We have much to offer to companies that are looking to expand in the U.S.,” he said. “We want to make sure that as they are looking at places up and down the I-5 corridor, they consider the Kitsap area.”

He said while he has not attended the show before, he and Thomson will be part of the Washington State Department of Commerce’s delegation of 40 to 50 people, including Gov. Jay Inslee. Many of them have attended the show before.

“They are pretty savvy about this industry and this show,” he said. “Traveling with them is something that we are looking forward to.”

In February Thomson presented a plan to restructure and downsize that was estimated to save the port $443,555 a year. That cost savings will be achieved through layoffs, management restructuring and by the resignation of the director of marine facilities. Under the plan, the port will have one marina operations manager for both the ports of Bremerton and Port Orchard. It also called for the elimination of the director of business development.

Thomson said the plan is progressing and layoffs are taking place.

KADA’s mission statement reads: To position and promote Kitsap County to retain, expand and attract aerospace and defense industry investment and employment through the development and execution of a comprehensive, integrated and strategic workforce – infrastructure – facilities – and marketing plan; a plan with a focus on leveraging the attributes and assets of the South Kitsap Industrial Area and Bremerton National Airport.


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