Strong first quarter for jobs in Kitsap

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Kitsap County is enjoying its highest job levels since 2008.

An average of 86,500 people worked for employers within the county in the first quarter of 2015, a 3 percent improvement from the same period of 2014.

Employment was up about 2 percent from last year among private companies in Kitsap and 4 percent among government agencies, according to data from the state Employment Security Department.

On the private side, some of the largest gains came from the areas of retail trade and leisure/hospitality.

The growth in government jobs was largely from federal employment, which increased from about 16,400 in the first quarter of 2014 to 17,400 in the first quarter of 2015.

Here’s a graphical look at jobs trends in Kitsap:

 

Employment/labor force

General employment among Kitsap County residents showed slight improvement in the first quarter.

An average of 108,373 county residents were employed during the first three months of the year, an increase of about 540 from the same period of 2014.

The labor force — the total number of people working or seeking work — was also up slightly in the first quarter, despite a dropoff in March.

Kitsap County finished March with a 5.7 percent unemployment rate, reflecting a modest gain in employment and the dip in the labor force.

Here’s a graphical look at employment and labor force trends in Kitsap:

Marijuana grow approved in SK

The state Liquor Control Board approved a license Tuesday for a small recreational marijuana grow off Mile Hill Drive.

The producer, Northern Lights Wholesale Nursery, will be located on Garfield Avenue, south of Manchester.

Northern Lights is licensed as a tier 1 producer, meaning it can grow up to 2,000 square feet of plant canopy.

Northern Lights is the seventh recreational marijuana producer, and eleventh recreational marijuana business licensed in Kitsap County.

Expand the embedded map or click here to see all the locations.

Manchester could be getting a microbrewery

10985869_1574322029508290_7102575816289966737_nTwo entrepreneurs hope to open a microbrewery and restaurant in Manchester by the summer of 2016.

Cody Morgan and Ludomir Wanot are co-founders of the aptly-named Manchester Brewing Co. Morgan, an avid homebrewer, is developing the beer lineup.

11009989_1556834387923721_1983697457931933585_nThe partners have begun applying for the necessary licenses. They’ve also picked a location, a vacant two-story building on Colchester Avenue.

Wanot said codes in Manchester require them to open a restaurant before they begin selling beer. They plan to install the brewery on the ground floor of the building and open the restaurant upstairs.

The duo have an investor lined up for the project and plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign soon.

Wanot said Manchester is a growing hub that seems primed for more business development.

“I think it will be a really nice crowd,” he said. “It’s a great area.”

See the Manchester Brewing Co. page on Facebook for updates.

Kitsap’s brewery scene is buzzing this year. Silver City, Slaughter County and Sound are all in the midst of major expansions. Two breweries are under construction in Bremerton, and another is planned in Silverdale.

Contributed photos.

Home care workers holding protest in Bremerton

Update: As far as we could tell, nobody showed up to this event today. We’ve reached out to organizers to find out if it was cancelled. 

Home care workers will rally at Burger King in Bremerton on Wednesday to protest in support of a $15 minimum wage and retirement benefits.

The workers are represented by the Service Employees International Union. The event is part of a statewide day of action.

Home care workers are protesting provisions in a proposed budget released by state Senate Republicans, which they say would prevent contributions to retirement plans.

The protest will begin at 11:30 a.m. at 621 Warren Ave., Bremerton.

Campaign launched to “save Bainbridge Bakers”

994135_5519785_ver1.0_640_480UPDATE: Labor and Industries confirmed it’s investigating five wage complaints lodged against Bainbridge Bakers this year. 

It’s hard to imagine Bainbridge Bakers, one of Bainbridge Island’s oldest and busiest coffee shops, being in financial trouble.

Apparently, it is.

An employee launched a campaign on GoFundMe.com Monday to raise $100,000 and “Save Bainbridge Bakers” from closure. The campaign had the blessing over owner Mike Loudon, according to the description.

Bainbridge Bakers opened a new location in the upscale Island Gateway development a year ago, and expanded its original home in Winslow Green.

The new location was a financial failure, according to the GoFundMe page and posts by the Bainbridge Bakers Facebook account. Recent posts also alluded to theft by an employee.

Bainbridge Bakers closed the Gateway shop and plans to relaunch it as a full-service restaurant, but the original location is now also in dire straits, according to the GoFundMe page. Donations will be used to keep the original shop afloat.

The GoFundMe campaign had raised about $6,000 as of Tuesday evening.

Kitsap apartment rents rising as vacancies drop

We already knew the housing market in Kitsap was experiencing low inventory and high demand. It appears similar trends are playing out in the rental apartment market.

20080309-175536-pic-965545952_5703882_ver1.0_640_480The rate of vacant apartments in Kitsap (3.55 percent) is among the lowest in Puget Sound, according to Tom Cain of Apartment Insights Washington.

Apartment Insights conducts quarterly surveys of apartment complexes with 50 or more units.

Silverdale was the only market in Kitsap with a vacancy rate above 4 percent.

The average per-unit rent for an apartment in Kitsap was $961 during the first quarter of 2015. Rents  jumped 7 percent over the past year, an increase of $62.

New apartments will hit the Kitsap market soon, including two complexes under construction in Bremerton. 

Here’s a graphical look at apartment trends in Kitsap:

Hot Kitsap real estate market favors sellers

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A low inventory of homes and ravenous demand have set up a seller’s market in Kitsap.

Pending sales in March were 23 percent higher than in March 2014, according to numbers released this week by Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Closed sales were up 35 percent from the previous year.

More than 500 homes came on the market in March, but it wasn’t enough to sate the appetite of buyers. Inventory remained very low, with 840 active listings.

The months supply of homes — the number of months it would take to sell off the available inventory if no more homes were listed — dropped to 2.4 months. A 4- to 6-month supply typically indicates a balanced market.

“Dramatic increases in sales combined with severe decreases of inventory have led to a robust marketplace primarily benefiting sellers,” said Mike Eliason, CEO of the Kitsap County Association of Realtors.

Prices may finally be heading up in the county. The median price for Kitsap closed sales in March was $240,523, a 7 percent increase from 2014.

The year-to-date median price (including sales in January, February and March) was $235,000, up from $225,000 in the same period of 2014. (See a breakdown of prices by area at the bottom of this post, or click here).

Here’s a graphical look at Kitsap real estate trends:

And here’s a look at median prices in various areas:

SAFE Boats delivering patrol vessels to Tunisia

Tunisia 65 PR

Two boats built in Bremerton will soon be roving off the Mediterranean coast of Africa.

SAFE Boats International recently announced the completion of a pair of 65-foot patrol boats for the Tunisian Navy. One boat already arrived in Tunisia. A second is being delivered.

According to a news release, the boats feature dual 1,600 horse-power diesel engines, shock absorbing seating, climate controlled cabins and navigation equipment. They can reach speeds in excess of 40 knots (nearly 50 mph).

The boats will help the Tunisian Navy conduct search-and-rescue missions and extended offshore patrols.

SAFE Boats’ products already make up a healthy portion of Tunisia’s fleet. The company has previously delivered 20 vessels to the Tunisian Navy, ranging from 25 to 44 feet long.

“We are extremely honored to be a continuing part of the Tunisian Navy and providing products that allow their personnel to accomplish the challenging missions they face.”, SAFE Boats CEO Dennis Morris said in the release.

The 65 foot boats are among the largest vessels SAFE Boats has built at its Port of Bremerton facility. The boats were fabricated in temporary hangars outside the main plant.

Bainbridge Walgreens building approved

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Planners have approved the first major building in the Visconsi shopping center on Bainbridge Island.

The city issued a commercial building permit March 30 for a 14,475-square-foot Walgreens  building. The drug store will be an anchor tenant for the 8-acre development, located on the northeast corner of High School Road and Highway 305.

bainbridge-island-aerialVisconsi also applied for a permit for a 3,228-square-foot Key Bank branch.

Key Bank plans to relocate to the development from its existing location on the south side of High School Road. The permit application is under review.

Looking at the site plan, the Key Bank building is the small building shown at the southwest corner of the property (nearest the intersection), the drug store is the next building to the north.

Those are the only two building permit applications Visconsi has submitted thus far, according to the city’s online permit records.

The Ohio-base developer plans to eventually build seven buildings on the site, with space for medical offices, stores and restaurants.

The Visconsi project drew heavy criticism from some islanders, who protested the clearing of trees and what they saw as unnecessary urban sprawl. The company posted this letter in response (PDF).