Minding Your Business

Reporter Tad Sooter keeps tabs on the West Sound economy, nonprofits and health care.
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Legal pot industry takes root in Mason County

September 23rd, 2014 by Tad Sooter


Mason County is quietly providing fertile ground for legalized pot grows.

Five recreational marijuana producers were given the Liquor Control Board’s blessing this year. The growers are scattered across rural areas of the county (expand map for a better view).

Three of those businesses are also licensed as processors, meaning they can turn harvested buds into products like oils and edibles.

Pot entrepreneurs submitted 20 retail applications in Mason. Six were proposed for Belfair and one for Allyn.

No retail outlets have been approved to date. The state will allow up to five stores in the county, including one in Shelton.

The liquor board had approved three marijuana grows and two retail shops (both for Port Orchard) in Kitsap County at last count.

Mason County commissioners earlier waffled on a marijuana moratorium, drawing ire from I-502 business applicants.

Bremerton airport hopes to land big aviation event

September 22nd, 2014 by Tad Sooter


Bremerton National Airport vying for the chance to host an aviation conference that would bring hundreds of planes and pilots to Kitsap County.

Port staff submitted a proposal last week to be considered as a site for a 2015 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In. The fly-ins include exhibits, aerial displays, vendors and food. Last year’s Northwest event was held on Aug. 16 in Spokane.

If it’s selected for a 2015 fly-in, Bremerton National would need to prepare for 500 planes and 900 vehicles, said Fred Salisbury, director of airport operations. AOPA will narrow down a list of finalists in October and announce the host site in December.

Crews are repaving portions of the Bremerton airport this month. Salisbury said the project is ahead of schedule, but the completion date could depend on the weather.

Kitsap poverty rate is low but rising

September 19th, 2014 by Tad Sooter


Nearly six hundred more Kitsap residents were living in poverty last year than in 2012.

And while the county’s poverty rate is low compared with other areas, it continues to rise.

An estimated 27,727, or 11.3 percent of Kitsap residents, were living below poverty levels in 2013, according to numbers released this week by the U.S. Cenus Bureau. By comparison, the Census estimated 8.5 percent of the Kitsap population, or 20,400 residents, were living in poverty in 2006.

The state poverty rate rose to 14.1 percent in 2013, with an additional 50,000 Washingtonians falling below poverty levels. The U.S. poverty rate remained flat at 15.8 percent.

According to the University of Washington’s West Coast Poverty Center, the continued rise of poverty rates, coupled with a widening income gap, suggest economic gains have yet to benefit many low-income residents.

“The poverty rate is an indicator of how well the most vulnerable do in our economy,” West Coast Poverty Center Director Jennifer Romich said in a statement. “The overall national picture suggests that economic growth is failing to reach everyone.”

See the center’s full analysis here.

Brewery proposed for space next to Admiral Theatre

September 18th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

693808_6341520_ver1.0_640_480We know many brewers see untapped potential in downtown Bremerton. One local couple has taken the first official step toward bringing a brewery to fruition on Pacific Avenue.

Jon and Sheree Jankowski filed a liquor license application this week to place a microbrewery and taproom at 555 Pacific Ave., a space at the base of the “Tim Ryan Building” at Sixth Street and Pacific. The business would be called Wobbly Hopps Brewery.

555.pacific2Jon, a shipyard worker, and Sheree, a city employee, are negotiating a lease on the space. The homebrewers said they are responding to public demand.

“We heard a lot of interest in Bremerton having a brewery,” Sheree said.

Wobbly Hopps could open  in the spring of 2015 if it secures federal and local approval as well as the state license. Sheree said they plan to start with a five-barrel brewing system.

The towering Tim Ryan Building is already home to offices for Edward Jones and Group Health. A Navy Federal Credit union branch is slated to move into the ground floor.

Another brewer is eyeing space in the same area. Jesse Wilson, an assistant brewer at Port Townsend Brewing is running an ongoing Kickstarter campaign to open a “LoveCraft” microbrewery in downtown Bremerton.

Bremerton is not bereft of beer makers – Silver City Brewery and Manette’s Der Blokken Brewery both have strong support in their own corners of town. But momentum seems to be growing for a brewery in the downtown business district.

Port Orchard is state’s fastest growing retail market

September 18th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

POwalmarttopretailRetail sales in Port Orchard grew at a faster rate than in any city in the state between 2008 and 2013.

That’s according to the Washington State Retail Survey, which recently published a list of fastest growing retail markets.

Port Orchard topped the rankings, posting an average annual increase of 9 percent over the six-year period.

The survey looked only at sales by traditional retail trade businesses like stores and dealerships to compile the list. It didn’t include taxable sales made in other industries like construction and manufacturing.

So what spurred Port Orchard’s rampant growth in sales? For starters, the city itself was growing.

Port Orchard went on an annexation spree during the years sampled for the rankings, roping in Bethel Corridor and other areas south of downtown. That brought Fred Meyer and a swath of commercial property into the city’s fold. The Port Orchard Walmart also upgraded to a Walmart Supercenter in 2012.

The addition of Fred Meyer and expansion of Walmart appeared to have a meteoric effect:

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of Port Orchard sales activity, provided by the Washington State Retail Survey: Read the rest of this entry »

John L. Scott acquiring Reid Real Estate in Kitsap

September 17th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

imagesJohn L. Scott Real Estate has entered into an agreement to buy the Kitsap County offices of Reid Real Estate.

John L. Scott will acquire Reid’s Bremerton, Port Orchard and Silverdale locations according to a news release. Reid Real Estate owner Jerry Reid will maintain his Mason County office in Belfair.

Reid founded his company in 1967. There are now more than 45 brokers working at Reid Real Estate offices in Kitsap.

“Jerry Reid set the standard for professional real estate service in Kitsap County and the real estate market would not be where it is today without his leadership for nearly 50 years,” John L. Scott CEO J. Lennox Scott said in the release. “It will be exciting to see two great teams join together to continue providing Kitsap County with quality real estate service.”

Reid said he also felt good about the sale.

“John L. Scott is a company that is a fixture in the Northwest,” he said. “I can trust that my colleagues, who have been instrumental in helping to build Reid Real Estate over the last 47 years, will be in capable hands.”

The transaction is expected to close Sept. 26. We’ll have more on the acquisition soon.

Orthopedic hospital logs 2,300 surgeries in first year

September 16th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

Orthopaedic Center

Surgeons at Harrison Medical Center’s orthopedic hospital in Silverdale performed 2,300 operations during the center’s first year of operation, according to a Tuesday news release.

Thousands of other patients received care at the facility, which opened on Sept. 16, 2013. The center also hosts educational talks and tours.

Harrison built the hospital to meet a coming wave of demand. The need for orthopedic care is expected to swell as Kitsap’s population ages rapidly. By 2040, more than 24 percent of the county’s population will be over the age of 65.

The newest Harrison facility, an 24-hour urgent care clinic on Bainbridge Island, is under construction. The clinic is slated to open Dec. 1.


Poulsbo Chamber director to step down

September 16th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

HarrisonGreater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jan Harrison will step down at the end of 2014, after two years leading the organization.

“The timing just feels right,” Harrison said in a Tuesday announcement. “This was a one- to three-year project for me and the Chamber’s response exceeded my expectations. I’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish and it’s time for me to leave it in the capable hands of the board, and move on to my next challenge.”

Chamber Board President Jessie Nino credited Harrison with pulling the Chamber out of a slump brought on by the recession.

“Jan was the right person at the right time,” Nino said in the announcement. “We needed a lot of energy that would motivate others to roll up their sleeves and launch some big initiatives.”

Harrison led efforts to move the chamber to its new offices on Highway 305, clean up its records, and boost attendance at monthly luncheons. She made the chamber more welcoming, Nino said.

“Perhaps most important, she moved this Chamber to one of inclusion, rather than exclusivity,” Nino said. “She’s positioned us so that businesses want to be a part of the fun — rather than feel obligated to join us.”

Harrison said she will relaunch her consulting practice after departing the chamber.

Kitsap Bank awards $20k to pet licensing tech firm

September 11th, 2014 by Tad Sooter

WA dogs in winter coats

A tech company focused on streamlining pet licensing won Kitsap Bank’s $20,000 Edg3 FUND award.

Pawzii, Inc., founded by Bremerton resident Alec Matias, develops software tools for animal licensing programs at shelters and local governments. The company has its headquarters in Seattle. It partners with the Kitsap Humane Society, King County and Seattle Animal Shelter among other organizations.

pawziiMatias, a former Zillow employee, said he believe his startup can help increase pet licensing rates by making the process easy.

“We’re just passionate pet people trying to fill this void,” Matias said in a recent interview.

While providing licensing software platforms for organizations, Pawzii.com offers a portal for pet owners to register their animals online. The site automatically files their paperwork with the nearest licensing office. Customers pay a small fee to Pawzii for each transaction.

A panel of judges awarded the inaugural Edg3 FUND small business prize to Pawzii Wednesday at an event in Bremerton.

“They are innovative and truly focused on making a difference in the community in a socially and environmentally responsible way,” Kitsap Bank President Tony George said in a news release.

Pawzii was one of five finalists for the award, which recognizes small businesses that benefit their communities economically, socially or environmentally. The company will use the prize money to expand its technology and scale up its business, according to the release.

Apartment vacancies low, rents up in Kitsap

September 11th, 2014 by Tad Sooter


Demand is increasing and rents are rising for apartments in Kitsap County.

Vacancies rates in large Kitsap apartment complexes (50 or more units) fell to 4.03 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to Apartment Insights Washington. That was down from 4.54 percent in the first quarter of 2014, 9.73 percent in the second quarter of 2013.

The lowest vacancy rate for Kitsap was in Port Orchard, at 3.13 percent. Poulsbo/Bainbridge Island’s 4.84 percent rate was the highest.

Rents ticked up as vacancies declined. The average apartment rent in Kitsap was $918 per month in the second quarter of 2014, a $19 increase from the previous quarter.

The increase in Kitsap was in step with South Sound counties. Rents in Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties together were up 2.5 percent in the second quarter and 4.5 percent on the year.

Rising demand for rentals is good news for apartment complex owners and developers. In South Kitsap, The Sidney development has added a substantial number of rental units in the past year. A new complex is also on the horizon, both literally and figuratively, in Bremerton.