Disparate Thoughts About SEED

On Wednesday U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee sent a press release celebrating the passage of a House bill that extended tax breaks for clean-energy producers and investors.

I thought of Kitsap SEED. It’s sort of an obsession of mine, you know.

So I wrote to Inslee’s press aide, Christine Hanson Clapp, asking what the congressman’s role in Kitsap SEED’s development would be. Here is her response:

As part of his vision for a New Apollo Project, Congressman Inslee wants to see the Puget Sound region lead the nation in a U.S. clean-energy revolution. He has backed the Kitsap SEED project because it would help ensure that Kitsap County in particular, would be on the leading edge of advances in green technologies.

Last year, he requested federal funds for Kitsap SEED business park in the energy and water appropriations legislation, though funding for the project ultimately was not included in the spending bill.

Congressman Inslee continues to fight for federal policies, like clean energy tax credits and a U.S. cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, to advance projects like Kitsap SEED. To win funding at the federal level, however, state and local governments first must make robust, long-term commitments to the project.

As all of you know, the commissioners are waiting to see the results of a third-party review of the business plan before deciding how much it wants to make the “long-term commitments to the project” Inslee suggested. There is also still hope for an EDA grant that would provide about $2.5 million toward constructing the first building.

This brings me to the next point. In my reading of the links posted here and my cursory look at the business plan, I don’t see proof of a lie. The 40 percent private investment is, as at least one commenter here has pointed out, still entirely within the realm of the first pod’s construction. It would probably be all public money to build the first part of the first building. That building would have a complete first floor, at least that is what the current plan is. The second floor of that building and the second building of Pod 1 could be built with private money.

That said, the impression that there would be more private interest by now goes to pretty high levels. One of the principals of In the Works, the nascent company that would love to locate itself on the SEED property, contends the site hasn’t been marketed well. If true, that’s a problem the port would have to improve to have any hopes of private interest. A lot of private interest could make the thing a no-brainer. It would at least pretty well guarantee the port’s commitment.

The private investors who met with port officials said let the businesses dictate SEED’s construction. Don’t build it and hope they’ll come.

Finally, Port Commissioner Larry Stokes, at the May 13 meeting, said he would favor building infrastructure to the site. With that built, the SEED site would be ready, but so would a few other pads along the way, according to Ken Attebery, the port’s CEO. That is not insignificant. What I don’t know, because I haven’t yet asked, is whether Stokes would favor GO bonds to build the infrastructure. Stokes said he would even vote for the first building’s construction if it was all done with grant money. He wouldn’t necessarily agree with it, but he’d rather see the grant money spent locally than see it go somewhere else.

As a P.S. to this, let me acknowledge that the last set of exchanges on SEED became too personal for too long for my tastes, so I finally halted it. No one is banned. We all (I assume) go too far some times. The one response I got asked why I didn’t stop once it got personal. The problem is, I don’t how on earth I could pinpoint that precise moment. And I believe that if did pinpoint a single moment, someone would disagree. As I’ve said in the past, I err on the side of publishing until it becomes to painful to do so. It got painful. It doesn’t have to this time.

Now let’s talk about SEED.

8 thoughts on “Disparate Thoughts About SEED

  1. I completely agree that private investment could make SEED a “no-brainer”. An appropriate mix of private and public funds could certainly make SEED appear more viable to the only financial risk- takers with the project thus far… taxpayers.

    I haven’t heard many people say that the concept of SEED is bad. The problem for citizens has been a lack of effective communication from those using our funds and the very real concern about the level of tax burden the Port is imposing on local property owners.

    In fact, if the Port had better communicated about the IDD TAX for the new marina and about SEED, I think they would have gotten a loud and clear message that ONE of those was ok, but not both hitting property owners at effectively the same time.

    Kathryn Simpson

  2. It’s a gamble at this point. If there isn’t a tenant who is willing to take Kitsap up on the offer they shouldn’t do it. Whoever wants to locate there is probably going to have some very specific facility needs anyway.

    The SEED has yet to sprout….

  3. In a June 6, 2006 meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (link: http://www.kitsapregionalcouncil.org/library/C%20-%20KRCC%20Board/2006%20Summaries/B%206%206%2006.pdf ), Tim Botkin said:

    “The Clean Technology Research/Testing Facility is almost complete.”


    “A large company, Nova, has signed a letter of intent to set up at the SEED site”

    Since you have determined these were not “lies”, can you post a picture of the Clean Technology Research/Testing Facility and a PDF of the letter of intent?

    Thank you.

  4. Private investors are much more carefull with thier money than politicians are with the taxpayers money. Until the government guarantees a profit no matter how hairbrained the scheme, there will be no private investment in these pie-in-the-sky projects

  5. Steven mentions exchanges on SEED become too personal for his tastes. However, setting the stage for civil discussion isn’t accomplished by an attitude of “all’s fair game” until someone favoured is finally called out for hypocrisy and spreading misinformation. Those who attempt to discuss SEED and its facts make an effort to supersede the feelings, fears, or misinformation surrounding it.

    We’ve seen numerous comments in this blog regarding SEED’s business plan. This includes misinterpreted snippets from third party minutes or articles, incorrect assumptions regarding why it considered itself the first of its kind, and misread links regarding industry standards for incubators or when private investment occurs.

    And yet, a reporter “obsessed with SEED” gives the business plan a cursory look, and doesn’t upload it so many others can properly educate themselves regarding its contents. Comments about some elected leaders, or uninformed impressions at “pretty high levels” merely lays the same ground as before for sound bite misinformation and emotionalism.

    I agree with In The Works that SEED could be marketed much better. It will assuredly impact its ability to attract private investment, but also the public investment anticipated in the earlier stage. Fortunately, private investors will take more time to understand the project than the average citizen, whose lack of effort can impact or reduce private interest.

    The Port’s commitment isn’t simply about the financials, however. It has a duty to understand and effectively manage any project it undertakes. There has been expressed intention to form a public/private entity where the Port would play an advisory role, similar to what was advocated with NASCAR. If SEED is in danger of becoming yet another political patsy for voter hostility from prior incidents, getting this underway and trimming back the Port’s role is a reasonable next step after the third party review is completed.

    I keep reading comments that public supports a reasonable mix of public and private funds. Then Steven’s comments that private investment is a no-brainer. He’s correct: it is – which is why it has always been a projected facet of SEED. The point here is the phase in which it was anticipated, and both the Port and media have a responsibility to understand and communicate these details. Both have made some effort but certainly not their best.

    And for the record, the Port’s handling of the IDD TAX for the new marina wouldn’t have affected my decision about SEED. They are two separate projects, and what would lead to my decision is thorough review of their respective merits. Besides, this region was looking at hundreds of millions with NASCAR and willing to support it on the “build it and they will come” belief of attracting business from Fortune 500.

    But enough of addressing the emotional points made in this thread to date.

    If you really want to talk about SEED start by posting the business plan. This way, bloggers filling in the blanks can at least begin to argue their points from a better informed position.

  6. It wasn’t the Kitsap Sun’s job to do what the Port of Bremerton should have done all along… communicate effectively with the public.

    That being said, it looks like the Port has followed through with a citizen’s suggestion made earlier this month to post the SEED Business Plan and associated documents on their website. I would make the link clickable, but that seems to send posts to the SPAM bin….


    According to the CTCC Business Plan, Sustainable Synergy presented the SEED Business Plan to the Port in May of 2005. In May of 2008, it is now available on the Port’s website.

    If the financial risk-takers are the public, then the public should be kept informed in a timely manner. While I don’t consider three years to be a “timely manner”, I do appreciate that the Port is beginning to correct it’s course.

    Happy reading.

    Kathryn Simpson

  7. It is indeed the media’s job to report the news and inform the public, particularly if it receives information from the source which is relevant to readers. Unless we’re shooting for another instance of reporting the drama and ignoring the meat a la the IDD marina tax issue.

    And yes, the Port has finally followed through with the requests of many over several months, including myself, to post its business plan and associated documents on to its website.

    One hopes you didn’t just skim the first document and pop off a comment without noticing the final versions of others are from late 2006, or mid to late 2007 – and not just 2005. Not that it matters: no one has excused the Port’s failure to post them earlier.

    The bigger issue remains informed discussion regarding facts surrounding SEED. Now that you and others have the documents, let’s see if they’re read and it bumps up the level of coverage and engagement. Indeed; happy reading. I’ve seen many of them before.

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