Category Archives: Economic Development

Washingtonians Like Statewide School Bonds

The Associated Press has a story about Gov. Chris Gregoire’s favorable opinion about sending out a bond for a statewide vote.

Gregoire said discussions of a possible bond package are still preliminary, and she didn’t say what type of taxes might pay for those kinds of bonds. But she signaled a strong interest in taxpayer-backed debt to finance technology and environmental upgrades in the K-12 system.

Such projects would create needed jobs and boost consumer spending while making schools more energy-efficient and improving the quality of public education, she said.

“We’ve got to have a 21st-century education system coming out of this recession,” Gregoire said. “That’s the way in which our kids, and we as a state, are going to be able to compete.”

The Secretary of State’s office followed with evidence that such measures have done well in Washington in the past.

If my search, using the link the secretary provides on the blog, is correct, out of nine bonds submitted to voters in Whashingon’s Washington’s system, eight were approved.

Missing the Meltdown — Updated

No group I know of does more navel gazing than the one I work in. Maybe actors do.

In our case it’s worth exploring, especially when we miss something. We did it here on the port’s marina tax.

NPR has a nice piece on how the media missed the economic meltdown.

And this guy predicted it long before it happened and few appreciated it. He’s still not popular.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jake I’ve had cause to look further into who was predicting this kind of meltdown and find out that he is indeed correct that Paul Krugman has reason to say, “I told you so.” What makes this even more interesting is the cures he suggest differ greatly from the other guy we referenced earlier in this post, Peter Schiff.

Stimulus for Cops

Josh Farley has a blog entry and is working on a story reporting on local police departments receiving money out of the economic stimulus package approved by Congress and the president. He’s got a list of the financial breakdowns locally.

Andy Park, the new financial services director for the city of Bremerton said at Wednesday’s meeting that one of the ways the city was hoping to close a projected $3.9 million hole in the city’s 2009 budget was a $300,000 grant from the federal government for police. According to Farley, the city will get something less than that, but at this point I’m not certain this is the grant Park was talking about.

Farley mentions one issue that comes up with this kind of funding. Another potential problem that did come up in the council race in which Roy Runyon ended up being the winner is that cities get this money from the federal government and then hire more officers. If the feds stop giving money, then the cities have to fund the officers on their own or let some go. I’m not sure what the city has in mind for the money.

The economic stimulus would be jobs. If it’s something else, like buying new equipment it couldn’t otherwise afford, then it’s pumping money through the system.

Clean-Tech in Bremerton: Someone Had to Ask

Rachel Pritchett, our biz reporter, gave you the story Wednesday of three tenants locating in the brand new building at Sixth and Pacific. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish it was us. Digression ended.

Most of the comments after the story were about mental health patients using the same building as investment companies. But there was one comment, written by a regular suspect, that addressed the same issue I thought of:

Now, that comment refers more to the incubator concept, but in the same conversation is the question why this company didn’t locate in an available space at the port until the incubator opened. I haven’t called the business owners personally and the port is no longer my thing, but I think the company’s owners provided part of the answer without being asked.

“A company statement said proximity to the ferry will help with commutes to Seattle.”

As shaky as we feel about ferry service here in Bremerton, here’s a company citing a building’s proximity to the docks as a reason to be downtown.

So in one sense this is a clean-tech good news story that is bad news for the port.

There are other senses in which this is not necessarily bad for the port. A company that doesn’t need that access will be fine. Perhaps the port can try to overcome the walkability factor downtown has going for it. And it makes the case that businesses don’t sign up in buildings that don’t exist.

Economic Recovery Web Sites

The state unveiled its economic recovery Web site today. On it you can see a list of all projects being requested by cities, counties and other governments throughout the state. You can also go to agency sites dealing with the stimulus.

The state also provides a link to the federal Web site.

Speaking of the economy, check out the jokes about the economy at West Sound Politics. The second joke, the one about the pigeon, is my favorite.

Voting on Stimulus

Ed Friedrich is working on the transportation angle of the stimulus package today. I’m in Olympia, about to hang with Adele, a former Supreme Court justice and a Krist Novoselic from Nirvana.

In the meantime I’ve had several people suggest I post the link to Stimulus Watch. On the site you can see requests made by cities for economic stimulus money from the federal government. And you can vote on the merits of them.

The story Ed’s working on will probably show that Washington’s Department of Transportation is planning no projects in Kitsap County, is making dubious requests in there and that the county’s collaborative governing group has four projects it believes are good matches for economic stimulus because they are ready to go.

Inslee Praise Green Energy Elements of Stimulus Bill

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, leads with his consistent support of green energy projects in his offical statement on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the economic stimulus bill.

“Washington state has much to gain in this bill. The bill will save and create 75,000 jobs in Washington — and 8,500 in my district alone. I worked with the Washington federal delegation to make sure that the Bonneville Power Authority has an additional $3.25 billion in borrowing authority to build up transmission capacity to accommodate new, clean energy sources. In addition, the Washington state energy program will get over $60 million dollars to implement local renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Inslee calls the bill the start of the New Apollo Energy project, because it provides $90 billion for the green economy. You can read the rest of his press release in the jump.

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Navy Could Be Tipping Point for Ferries

To date it has seemed like local ferry supporters have been speaking to crowds secretly plugged into iPods. The audience looks like it’s listening, but its attention is clearly elsewhere. We’ve discussed this before. The ferry study gets shut down, Frank Chopp stays silent and no one except our legislators seems to be calling for anything other than reductions in service.

Now, the Navy chimes in.

“I strongly recommend the state of Washington pursue a course of action that will maintain the service our Navy sailors, civilian employees and families now depend on and enjoy,” wrote Adm. James Symonds to David Moseley, ferry jefe.

Politically, this could be exactly the backing the ferry system needed. It’s the first voice I’ve noticed that has a real potential for motivating someone who doesn’t depend on the ferries. Moseley seems to see this. From Ed Friedrich’s story:

“Moseley thanked Symonds for the feedback and encouraged Navy personnel to contact local legislators.”

I would assume that means contacting legislators besides the nine who represent Kitsap.

Getting the Navy’s backing also gives U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, more clout than he had before with the Legislature. He didn’t get NASCAR. He might get this. More from the story:

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said the defense industry stabilizes the state’s economy, and “it’s important for our future to preserve the state’s valuable defense jobs by working hard to accommodate the needs of Washington’s military bases and defense industries, as well as the military personnel who serve our nation.”

Besides calling on the state to back our military, you’ll notice he included “industry,” “economy” and “jobs.” That’s gotta be worth something.

Stimulus Bill Clears Goes to Vote in Senate

Got this from MSNBC:

“BREAKING NEWS: Stimulus bill advances on 61-36 vote in Senate”

We’ll get you more. I stand corrected. It was the cloture vote, which basically means they’ll vote on the dadgummed thing tomorrow without threat of filibuster. I interpreted “advances” as passed. I’m here in the county building at a meeting of commissioners and have to rely on short bursts of news gathering.

In the meantime you can read a story the News-Tribune ran this weekend that is similar to what we had, only focused on Pierce County. One nice piece in the story is that if every stimulus request in the county were granted, it would top $900 million. That’s one county that could eat up the entire pie allocated to the state. That should let you know what the odds are of any single item getting approved. In Kitsap County, by the way, the total for now is in the neighborhood of $300 million, but we’re still collecting data.

Recessionary Thoughts from a Year Ago

In researching for another purpose I found stories from 2008 that touched on economics. It may seem like a long time ago to most of us, but the U.S. government sent us stimulus checks last year. Additionally, a guy who gives great talks about the economy was telling us that it didn’t look like a real recession was in the cards for us in 2008. Mitchell was back this year. He said the thing about recessions we tend to forget is that they do end. He’s thinking late this year we’ll be on the way back up. That doesn’t mean fully recovered, it just means rising again.

In the meantime, you know, the federal government is planning to send money down the pipeline and local governments hope there’s some for this area.

Before September Democrats were talking about the infrastructure part of the economic stimulus package we’re about to see, saying providing jobs would do more to bump the economy than sending out checks. That conversation has ballooned into a host of spending measures, opening up the conversation about whether FDR’s programs worked and the like.

On Sunday we gave you an idea of what local governments are doing. We’ll be updating the associated database as we get more information.

Some Details on Economic Stimulus

Here’s a little breakdown of some of the money being proposed in the economic stimulus package Congress is considering. Of course, all this could change drastically or somewhat. This comes from Chris Endresen, state director for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a speech she gave Tuesday night in Port Orchard to 26th District Democrats. She said the list came from the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

The verbiage in this list is from Endresen’s text.

• Tax cuts for Working Families – $247 billion
• Job-creating Investments in Infrastructure and Science – $165 billion
• Job-creating Investments in Health – $153 billion
• Job-creating Investments in Education and Training – $138 billion
• Job-creating Investments for an Energy Independent America – $82 billion
• Job-creating Tax Cuts for Small Businesses – $21 billion
• Helping Americans Hit Hard by the Economic Crisis – $72 billion
• Law Enforcement, Oversight, Other Programs – $10 billion
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Localizing the Economy Boost

This weekend our plan is to expound on the proposed economic stimulus plans being pushed in the other Washington and coveted in this one. By “expound” I mean “localize.”

The county, the cities and, we presume, other agencies are making lists to present to state officials, who will be the ones distributing the funds.

We know there are many who believe this whole exercise is foolhardy, that this effort won’t yield the results publicly intended. That is an argument that can go on in detail in the national writings. Here, we’ll touch on it, but locals are gearing up for what seems to be fait accompli. The federal government is going to pass something that will then get spent with the idea of boosting the economy.

What we hope to address are reasonable expectations about what kind of money would come here and to get some explanation as to how these projects are supposed to help the economy.

My hunch is you have some ideas. Care to share them?

Rockefeller Proposes Green Jobs Bill

State Sen. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, is sponsoring the Green Jobs and Climate Action bill (It’s a PDF download) in the state Senate.

The bill has cap-and-trade provisions and money to create energy-saving transportation options, green buildings and energy and incentives for people to buy plug-in vehicles.

You can get some details of the bill after the jump from press releases, or by downloading the bill above, or by reading this story from The Olympian. The bill is being done at the request of the governor. State Reps. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, and Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, have their names on the House bill.
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Schools Get Details from Economic Stimulus Bill

There are not a lot of specifics regarding local projects as part of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House Wednesday. School districts, though, are clear in some regard.

The staff for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, provided a list of funding for schools in his district, then scrambled to get me numbers for Bainbridge Island as well.

South Kitsap would get $4.8 million over the next two years, of which $1.2 million would be set aside for construction.

Central Kitsap is set to receive $4.7 million, Bremerton $4.5 million and North Kitsap $2.5 million. North Mason is scheduled to receive $972,300 and Bainbridge Island would get $950,800. Money not used for construction is allocated for programs for disadvantaged and disabled children.

The bill passed in the House 244-188 without a single Republican vote in favor.

Dicks said infrastructure work in Washington will account for $847 million, part of a potential $5 billion impact on the state. He also pointed out there will be money for wastewater treatment facilities.

In a written statement U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, paid special attention to $84 billion invested in clean energy programs included in the bill.

Cities and counties are still in the process of preparing lists of infrastructure projects deemed to be “shovel ready” within 90 days. At tonight’s Bremerton City Council meeting the council went over a list that city is preparing. The county is also refining its list.

Getting a Piece of the Economic Stimulus Pie

You have to figure that all over the nation there are city and county and state politicians trying to figure out how they can get their hands on as much of the federal economic stimulus money as possible.

At the county Monday Shawn Gabriel, administrative services director, and Chip Faver, parks and recreation director, both said they’ve been advised to not abbreviate the list of possible projects. Right now there is not a way to know exactly how the funds will be distributed and how much will be available.

As I mention in a story that focuses mostly on a bill that could help provide money to housing authorities, the money could come both through congressional districts and states. Faver described it as “paying service,” as in paying service to members of Congress and to governors. I suppose it’s a way to keep the incumbents in office or to at least make them look good in history books. Washington’s cut could be between $1 billion, what the governor projected in her budget.) and $4 billion, what the state could get based on population-based disbursement methods.

Right now it looks like the county’s strategy is to pile it high and stack it deep. Gabriel’s list includes employment estimates. State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, was asked by House Speaker Frank Chopp to oversee strategy development in the state House of Representatives to set criteria for handing out stimulus money. You’d know that if you read my story Sunday.

Everywhere in this country, I imagine, those in charge of bringing home the bacon have to be feeling a bit anxious. It’s kind of like writing a resume. You might write the best document you’ve ever seen, but if the employer doesn’t fancy it, your work does you know good. Those making pitches for funds have to hope they present their ideas well and that they sell.

One SKIA Decision Down

The Washington State Boundary Review Board decided Thursday night to allow Bremerton’s annexation of the smaller part of SKIA to stand as requested. Port Orchard’s mayor, Lary Coppola, said the news was good for his city, because it doesn’t preclude Port Orchard from being the sewer service provider in the future.

In Bremerton, meanwhile, a planner for the city characterized the board’s decision as saying the board is not the place to determine how sewer will happen.

I’ll have more later, and Port Orchard’s press release and the Bremerton e-mail follow the “more” button below.
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What to Do with the Bremerton Tunnel

With one of the plans calling for auto ferry service to be cut to less than half what it is now, it could make that tunnel being built downtown less useful than critics argue it would be anyway.

It’s getting built, though, so we better use it.

If the tunnel is used for offloading ferry cars once or twice a day, what should we use it for the rest of the time?

And here’s another video in which a local politician talks about ferries, and in this case it’s related to the tunnel. Wait for the second question.

Bremertonians Get a Chance to Work Without Sailing

Rachel Pritchett has the goods on how the money set aside by the Legislature for a telework experiment is being used. A center, temporary for now and located on the fourth floor of some undisclosed building in downtown Bremerton, will be opened for those who normally commute to Seattle.

At the same time Nicholas K. Geranios at the Seattle P-I has looked at new Census data and found that Bremerton, at 8.4 percent, has the highest rate of mass transportation users in the state.

Obama on Climate Change Goals

While we’re on the subject, here’s this from the New York Times, comments from President-elect Barack Obama on whether he’d scale back his climate change goals until the economy improves. Short answer: No.

“When I am president, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America.”