Kitsap Caucus

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Green News

October 13th, 2008 by Steven Gardner

On Tuesday the Port of Bremerton is scheduled to vote on whether to accept the $2.58 million grant it has been offered by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Should the port decide to move ahead with Kitsap SEED, it will have to match the federal grant funds. Last time the commissioners delayed the vote so everyone could read the consultant’s report.

The Columbian has a story about U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., visiting the area and talking about green energy, specifically the bailout bill’s ornaments for green technology. Included in the story was a discussion about the power grid.

Now political leaders need to fix the nation’s electric grid, said Chris Crowley, president of Columbia Wind. “Our infrastructure is held together with chewing gum and bailing wire.”

Because of the grid’s age and limits in its design, wind power generated in rural areas cannot always be moved along transmission lines to the high-population areas where electricity users live.

When U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, was here, I mentioned infrastructure projects as part of his video’d Q&A. This was before the second vote in which the bailout bill passed. I brought up transportation projects, he specifically called out the power grid.

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10 Responses to “Green News”

  1. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    I sent this earlier today to the Port and encourage anyone who can’t be there tomorrow to submit written comments.

    Port of Bremerton Commissioners,

    As assertively and respectfully as possible, I urge the Port of Bremerton Commissioners to refuse the EDD Grant and end the SEED project, unless it can be accomplished without taxpayer subsidy. We are facing extraordinarily harsh economic times that will require the preservation of property tax dollars for the most necessary priorities of government… infrastructure, law and order, and public education.

    If you go forward with betting even more taxpayer funds on the SEED “entrepreneurial activity” (as termed by the Berk Report), you risk the good will of the public to vote yes for real quality of life investments like schools and public services.

    Current national economic conditions should be teaching us valuable lessons. We cannot afford to continue to speculate with taxpayer dollars. Speculative investment is not a priority of government. Those who want to speculate on “green” jobs can invest their own funds in the form of venture capital. I would encourage the Port to work with private investors to fund the SEED project. However, I object to any further insistence that taxpayers continue as the only investors in this highly speculative project. The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority tried speculating with the taxpayer’s money and we, the taxpayers, lost. Surely you see and understand the parallels.

    Our local employers need highly educated high school graduates who have the math, English, and communication skills to grow into a trade or to attend college and return for engineering positions. To attract employees to relocate or remain here, our local employers need to be able to market a high quality of life in Kitsap County, through parks, recreation, and public safety. Every tax dollar that goes towards subsidizing SEED is a tax dollar unavailable for the priorities of government.

    Page 45 of the Berk Report is quite clear:

    “Establishing an incubator in a location with relatively low levels of immediate research and entrepreneurial activity is a catalytic, market-making venture and so the plan absolutely comes with
    uncertainties and risks…”

    I implore the Port of Bremerton Commissioners to vote NO to further speculative investment of tax dollars in SEED. We have not seen private investment in SEED after three years. We have not seen any commitment of private industry to SEED. It is time to cut our taxpayer losses. We face deficits in the county budget and in the state budget ($3.2 billion and growing). Please give taxpayers some relief and good will. Please focus Port of Bremerton activities on growing jobs that don’t need subsidies from taxpayers.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson
    Citizen within the Port District

  2. Roger Gay Says:

    The Berk Report seems to say that the SEED is is very speculative and would require great leadership and management to make it work. I do not see that coming from the Port of Bremerton. I can see where K. Simpson’s concerns are about spending taxpayer dollars. With the SKSD asking for $70,000,000, the largest amount ever requested by SKSD for a levy, the taxpayers are going to be alert and dubious of any requests. Some seem to blame the last loss by the SKSD on the reaction of the taxpayers to the %150 tax increase by the Port. When you add in the future requests by the South Kitsap Fire and Emergency District, the Bethel Corridor Improvement District, and other local upcoming requests for taxpayer money it does not look good for the taxpayers. But then the Port of Bremerton is not known for really caring what the taxpayers think. Maybe they are changing and becoming better stewards of the taxpayer dollars. It will be interesting to see what will happen Tuesday, assuming they actually do something and not delay a decision again.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  3. Registered Voter Says:

    The Berk Report seems to say that the SEED is is very speculative and would require great leadership and management to make it work. I do not see that coming from the Port of Bremerton.

    You have a valid point. If the Port spends money securing third party reports and business plans by nationally-respected experts who are familiar with incubators, clean tech, public/private partnerships and the like, the basis of their decision-making should heavily rely upon this over those who may not fully understand the issues, or outright refuse to do so because there are other projects they want to see supported. Otherwise, the system to be gamed. A group with an agenda can show up at meetings to shout down the Port one way or another in a manner which isn’t an example of effective or visionary leadership.

    The Berk Report is clear on many things, and deliberately avoids taking a position on others. The entire comment on page 45 in context:

    6.0 CONCLUSIONS
    The proposed Kitsap SEED incubator is an ambitious plan that has the potential to not only contribute to the economic vitality of the County, but to add energy to the Puget Sound Region’s clean technology industry as a whole. The vision for the full Kitsap SEED campus, with the Sustainable Practices Institute and 70 acres of development dedicated to clean technology, is even more ambitious.

    The intent of this document has been to examine how reasonable or feasible the ambitions of the Kitsap SEED incubator are. As described in the review of needed ingredients for success in Section 3.0, the incubator location and the business plan have both strengths and weaknesses. Significant challenges include the site’s relative distance from research institutions and centers of start-up activity. To overcome these challenges, a “compelling package” of attractions must be assembled for the plan to be successful in recruiting businesses to Kitsap.

    Establishing an incubator in a location with relatively low levels of immediate research and entrepreneurial activity is a catalytic, market-making venture and so the plan absolutely comes with uncertainties and risks. Some of these risks are quantified in terms of the range of operating subsidies that may be required under the various scenarios modeled in Section 5.0.

    We cannot say whether the Port should or should not go ahead with the plan in absolute terms, as we find the plan to be ambitious, not unreasonable, and not without risk. We hope that the information and comment we have provided will help the Port’s Commissioners weigh the plan’s strengths and challenges, as well as its potential payoffs and potential risks, and come to a conclusion about whether or not to proceed.

    By all means, however, speak up as is your right. Submit comments to the Port if you cannot attend. And don’t forget to cc your comments to the media so they can be publicised, whether accurate in our assertions or not.

  4. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    If there were any serious hope that the SEED investment would be successful in Kitsap County, I would support it. After all, we all benefit from a growing business property tax base. Unfortunately, after three years, SEED still has no private investors on the horizon, SEED’s business plan still entails substantial risk to the taxpayer investors, and we are facing harsh economic times in the county and across the nation. These things combine to a reasoned position that continued taxpayer investment in SEED is a very risky proposition.

    If the risk were just SEED money, it would be one thing. However, the risk is not just about SEED. It is risking other tax projects that are fundamental to the priorities of government. It is risking the goodwill of the taxpayers on things that they WILL VOTE ON soon (schools and EMS). Surely the Port should be concerned about that?

    First the Bremerton marina project (which is not paying for itself, as promised), then SKIA, now SEED… Voters didn’t get a direct voice in those things. They have a direct voice in school and EMS levies. Yes, I am very worried about the Port possibly moving forward with action that will anger voters, again.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  5. Mary Colborn Says:

    I, too, am concerned with the Port of Bremerton commissioners moving forward with an action that would “anger taxpayers.” The action I am thinking of is the rejection of a $2.58 million grant that would jumpstart economic development for Kitsap County in the burgeoning green tech field.

    I urge our commissioners to put the future of Kitsap County first. I urge them to accept the risks and move forward. I urge them to accept the grant with gratitude.

    I spent the past week in D.C. and Williamsburg, VA, listening to the words of our forefathers in context of the Revolutionary War.

    Our times are little different. We face a need for change. We face a need for courage. Our leaders must be brave, wise and full of foresight. They could choose as did many during that time to hold onto the past. They could choose to accept things as they are, however, painful and discouraging.

    I pray that they do not. I pray that they move forward with courage and wisdom accepting this grant and moving us into a brighter future.

    Mary Colborn
    hailing from D.C.

  6. Elliott Says:

    Normally, I’d support SEED, but not in these economic times.

    Maybe we should all admit that the idea of developing the SKIA is futile for now, and just let it sit “fallow” until there’s more demand for it.

  7. Registered Voter Says:

    There is no human being in the position to know SEED’s future. What can be guaranteed is that a failure to act (with the best possible evidence and leadership in hand) will not yield any results.

    Given the SEED timeline and national industry standard, the lack of private investors at this stage isn’t unusual.

    Neither Berk nor other reports and business plans characterised the project as substantially risky. Open this document and search for the word ‘substantial’. It appears once on page 24 (“It is worth noting that the current economic climate is not expected to have substantial impact on the prospects of the clean tech industry regionally and more broadly.’)

    Do the same for ‘risk’. Certainly, it mentions very real risks, not without risk, and SEED “is a risky and entrepreneurial effort akin to starting a business.” Entrepreneurs don’t typically shrink from beginning their ventures because there is risk. However, they do proceed with as many facts in hand as possible – and leadership – so as to minimise risk. SEED should be no different, which was more the gist of Berk’s point.

    The Port of Bremerton has a mission which goes beyond politics and emotion. Even with a formal survey which quantifies that the majority of Kitsap voters didn’t vote for a library, IDD marina, or school levy on the basis of its actions (which does not exist), external efforts to manipulate cannot be accepted as a leadership standard.

    The worry about the schools is understandable, but the solution is a credible and sincere effort to inform and bring voters to the table via right action, not undermining other projects which might threaten. Raise the bar and appeal to logic, vision, common sense. Don’t lower it by simply exploiting emotions.

  8. Kathryn Simpson Says:

    Apparently one is only “credible and sincere” when one agrees with your point of view.

    As I have said all along, SEED may be a great opportunity for a venture capital project. However, it does not align itself with the priorities of government (especially in lean times) and is not an appropriate type of risk to involuntarily impose upon the taxpayers

    An editorial from another local newpaper, about SEED, just posted today…
    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/poi/opinion/31506089.html

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  9. Registered Voter Says:

    Apparently one is only “credible and sincere” when one agrees with your point of view.

    This would be indeed apparent to someone with a muddled view.

    Whether or not one agrees with another’s point of view, intelligent and informed discussion is more credible and sincere than ignoring what one doesn’t care to know when the facts are presented, or distorting or omitting them to suit an emotional agenda.

    What you have ‘said all along remains’ false and proven as such. Your level of knowledge is not sufficient to address SEED’s potential for venture capital or other funding, and your emotional comments regarding the priorities of government are contrary to the facts.

    The editorial you provided solidifies the point regarding a preference for emotion over fact. Let’s hope your school levy voters rise above your example for the sake of our children.

  10. Registered Voter Says:

    To no one in particular but in connection with this topic, the below arrived in my inbox today:

    Worried about the economy? Actually, this is a great time to start your business!

    And Entrepreneur University 2008 is the place to be on November 6, 2008.

    Lurking within the clouds of this economic downturn are some silver linings for savvy entrepreneurs.

    · With unemployment rising, now is the time to recruit good talent that may become available.
    · Although capital may be in short supply now, that will change in a year or two and those who start now will be ready.
    · Given the lower capital required for early stage ventures, angel investors are always looking for rising stars.
    · You can also score great deals on office space, equipment, and other resources in this economy.

    Our most recent NWEN Breakfast speaker, Lucinda Stewart of OVP Partners, echoed this notion when she affirmed that now is a great time to start a business.

    At EU 2008 you will hear from real-life entrepreneurs who know what it’s like:

    · Steve McCracken, CEO of Culture Mob, on “Should I bootstrap or seek investor funding?” (He’s done both.)
    · Kabir Shahani, CEO of Appature, on “What about my competition?” (He is carving out a profitable niche among large companies.)
    · Pete Parsons, CEO of Fyreball, on “What do investors look for in a business plan?” (He’s done several.)

    If you are thinking of starting a business in 2009, you can’t afford to miss EU ’08: Raise Your eIQ, NWEN’s essential summit for the region’s brightest entrepreneurial minds to gain knowledge, insight and creative ideas to elevate their eIQ and their business.

    Entrepreneur University 2008: Raise Your eIQ, there’s no other day like it! Don’t miss it! Thursday, November 6, 2008 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle.

    Mark your calendar for November 6, 2008 and register for EU ’08 TODAY at nwen.org!

    Click here for the full agenda and speakers.

    Click here to register online or call 425.564.5701

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