Rolfes bill would continue ties between Washington CASH, Kitsap WorkSource

By Rachel Pritchett
(206) 498-0920

OLYMPIA — A valuable relationship that was set to expire between two local groups to train unemployed people to start their own businesses has been preserved by the state Senate and is now in the House.

Proposed by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Senate Bill 6289 passed the upper chamber Saturday. It extends the synergetic relationship between the Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (Washington CASH) and WorkSource of Kitsap County beyond July, as well as other relationships like it in Washington.

The relationship under which WorkSource refers some unemployed workers to Washington CASH for training was established in 2007 with legislation that established “self-employment assistance programs,” or SEAPS.

Washington CASH is the only SEAP partner in Kitsap County approved by WorkSource’s parent, the Washington Department of Employment Security. Washington CASH gets about a third of its students from WorkSource, so it’s a valuable relationship to preserve, according to Stuart Walton, the Washington CASH Kitsap business-development specialist who built the program locally from the ground up.

“We trust each other,” he said.

But because of the popularity of Washington CASH locally, its existence isn’t contingent on the WorkSource connection. Washington CASH in Kitsap routinely has to turn away would-be entrepreneurs from the four nine-week training sessions it holds each year in its downtown Bremerton office.

Since Seattle-based Washington CASH started in 1995, about 1,320 businesses have started or expanded in Puget Sound with its help.

Its work in Kitsap County under Walton’s direction is widely hailed throughout Washington.

“This program teaches people how to use their professional experience to go to work for themselves,” Rolfes said. “In a difficult economic time, it can help people turn the loss of a job into an opportunity to launch a second career as consultants, contractors and small-business owners.”

Passage is expected in the House.

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