Business is booming in Kitsap, due in great part to the strategic, guiding efforts of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. As Board President Ben Anderson explains it, “Our successes are those of collaboration. We have a strong board of directors and a growing number of investors—municipalities, public agencies, corporations, entrepreneurs, and some nonprofits—together, we are ensuring a healthy future for Kitsap and the Greater Seattle region. This annual meeting is our chance to honor some who have volunteered an extra measure of their time and expertise.” [See also: Connecting companies, one Kitsap firm at a time]
A record 200 business leaders attended the annual meeting luncheon at the Kitsap Conference Center on Friday, March 31. [See below for links to presentations.] KEDA presented Economic Development Champion awards to five people:
- Congressman Derek Kilmer, 6th District, awarded for his continuing support of Kitsap business. On nearly every trip home from Washington DC, Kilmer visits at least one business he’s unfamiliar with in an ongoing effort to learn firsthand about the needs and successes of local leaders.
- Julie Tappero, president of West Sound Workforce, who has been a long-time KEDA board member and advocate for employment at all levels. Through her business, Tappero has supported training programs in 21st Century skills and become the go-to expert on emerging trends in employment. She has demonstrated dogged engagement in marrying workforce and economic development.
- Doña and Charles Keating, the founders of West Sound Technology Association, the first formal organization to foster a vibrant technology sector in Greater Kitsap, were awarded Industry Champions. WSTA has since evolved; today, it is concentrating on the CoderDojo program, designed to inspire and support STEM students, who will become tomorrow’s workforce.
- Finally, Dr. David Mitchell, president of Olympic College, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his longtime collaboration with business leaders in creating relevant academic programs that prepare young people and those who are changing direction in midlife. His unflagging leadership brought WSU and WWU to Kitsap as part of their 2+2 programs.
The luncheon was highlighted by Congressman Kilmer’s keynote speech, Congressman Derek Kilmer spoke to the intersection between Kitsap County and Washington DC, as well as the dynamics of the 115th Congress. Later, two new members were elected to KEDA’s Board of Directors: Lynette Ladenburg, CEO of Martha & Mary; and Kathryn Townsend, Client Relations Manager at West Sound Workforce.
The annual meeting was also the official launch of Campaign for Kitsap: Inspired Economic Development. Co-chaired by six current and past officers of KEDA (Ben Anderson, Art Anderson Associates; Monica Blackwood, Rice Fergus Miller; Nathan Evans, ATS; Steve Politakis, Kitsap Bank; Julie Tappero, West Sound Workforce; and Elliot Gregg, Kitsap Credit Union) Campaign for Kitsap is a new development campaign, aimed at expanding KEDA’s client-based economic development services. In other words, helping more businesses be even more successful.
Over the past five years KEDA has assisted more than 600 local businesses impacting 30,000 jobs and resulting in $225M in new business revenues and over $2B in new capital invested in Kitsap’s economy.
To learn more about Campaign for Kitsap, visit campaign4kitsap.com.