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Considering Whether Business Is the Context

November 11th, 2008 by Steven Gardner

Carrying on from the previous post about the clean-tech conference in California, I have looked a little more into these types of events and it is true that they are frequent. Perhaps they are as the author of this piece in Grist characterized it, “a dime a dozen these days.”

He was referring to the Renewable Energy Finance Forum West that took place in the last week in October in Seattle.

As RV mentioned in the previous post, the Puget Sound Business Journal will host the Green Business Summit on Nov. 12. The agenda looks to me to be about businesses implementing green strategies.

My interest in the Bay Area clean-tech event was that it was about the money. While the port can lay the table and market the site, it will be private investors, most likely, that would make a site like Kitsap SEED successful or prove that it’s not a good fit for the area. And those private investors, whose primary interest still appears to be about return, are taking an enthusiastic look at clean technology.

This actually has application in how we cover the port. When I was hired in Vancouver I was assigned as part of my beat the Port of Vancouver. I was a business reporter. Looking back, that’s a statement by the paper that it places higher deference to the port’s role in driving economic development than its role as a government body. Traditionally we have assigned Port of Bremerton coverage based on who had the city of Bremerton as a beat. That changed when my role changed, because Andy Binion was also covering cops in addition to his Bremerton coverage. In this job, I’m more a government guy.

That isn’t to say we don’t recognize the port’s role in economic development. What we’re considering, however, is following the model Vancouver set in assigning a business reporter to the topic instead of a government reporter. Education reporters cover school boards. Environmental reporters can go to any of the local governments when the issue is land use.

The port in the middle of government wrangling right now when it comes to SEED. But the economic development question is what provides the context behind whatever answer the elected port commissioners choose. Should the port continue to be my beat, that’s something I will work to make clear. Should it end up going to a business reporter, that’s a new angle to start from.

This is why Kitsap SEED has never been an “If you build it, he will come” scenario. The Berk study indicates it’s more like like, “If you build it and champion it, they might come.” What business venture isn’t like that?

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9 Responses to “Considering Whether Business Is the Context”

  1. Roger Gay Says:

    “If you build it and champion it, they might come.” Is that like the Bremerton condo’s? Is that like the many, many millions of dollars spent on downtown Bremerton, and I still do 80% of my shopping in South Kitsap or Gig Harbor? Is that how a taxpayer feels his money should be managed? We are not private investors, we are taxpayers who expect responsible conduct and actions by our elected officials. If the Port of Bremerton is for economic development of Kitsap County, why is all of Kitsap County not paying for the privilege of supporting the SEED project and the Port of Bremerton? Why are the many other Kitsap port districts not combined and all of Kitsap County can really share the benefits of SEED and the risks that our elected Port Commissioners seem to want to take with our tax money?
    I have been to the last two Port meetings at the airport and noticed that neither time did all three commissioners show up. Will all three decide to attend the budget meeting? Will anything said at the Town Hall meeting really matter? Will South Kitsap be railroaded into paying for SEED and its operations and maintenance because numerous people not in any of the Port of Bremertons Districts support SEED and are vocal about it? It should be and interesting and very entertaining Thursday night. Maybe the Port of Bremerton should be a South Kitsap beat, we seem to be very near the majority of the Port properties and business’s and pay dearly for the privilege.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  2. Larry Croix Says:

    I am very short of time this morning and may have more to say later. SEED is a government project. It is and always will be a political operation. You have spent a lot of time on the port in the last few years and are gaining the readers trust. The only way I want someone else reporting on this is if you are no longer with the Sun.

  3. Cynic Says:

    If SEED had any ghance of success, private investors would have already done it. This is just another way to spend lots of tax dollars to make a few insiders rich.

  4. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    “…80% of my shopping in South Kitsap or Gig Harbor?…”

    Of course you do! You live there. Why would anyone living in SK/PO shop anywhere other than your own area if it has what you need?
    To me, that means Costco and Gig Harbor has the large Costco PO/SK turned down.

  5. Registered Voter Says:

    When I saw Puget Sound Business Journal’s event, the biggest piece which stood out for me was the reference to getting beyond hype to exploring real opportunities (and pitfalls). That typically includes marketing, recruitment, management, but mostly money.

    Other than that, business is a more prominent context for me, with economic development being a part of it. The clean tech is simply one delivery mechanism in the 21st Century as we change how we operate and make things in business.

  6. Blue Light Says:

    Given the recent turn of events maybe SEED should be covered by the religion reporter.

  7. Mary Colborn Says:

    I wouldn’t characterize or put down the interest in clean tech and/or sustainability events, for that matter, as “a dime a dozen.”

    People are interested in how to retrofit their homes, businesses and schools to create monetary (and environmental) savings. They’re interested in living in ways that make more sense from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

    I don’t see the interest as any different than the efforts of my parents and grandparents to survive the trials of the Depression. Our trials are different and yet similar – how can we better use our limited resources to work, live and play.

    Check out McKinstry Company in Seattle for a perfect example of a solid, income producing business that is helping people to save money and live “greener.”

    http://www.mckinstry.com/

    Mary A. Colborn

  8. Blue Light Says:

    What’s becoming a dime a dozen are so-called “experts” in the field.

  9. Mary Colborn Says:

    Of course. That’s a given. I had a similar talk with Stace Noland, founder of Moontown Foundation. He said that within three years everyone will be in energy auditing and solar installation. You’ll see all kinds of people calling themselves experts.

    Right now, however, you do have experts like McKinstry in the field. Did you check them out? Pretty impressive.

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