As Port of Bremerton Commissioners, part of our responsibility is to look out 20 years and attempt to anticipate the future and then create a vision for how that future might impact the Port and what opportunities and challenges it will bring to the Port. All indications are that Kitsap County will see significant growth in the next 20 years. We can already see it in the number of new housing units being built within Kitsap County. At the Port, all of our buildings in the Olympic View Industrial Park are leased out and people are knocking on our door looking for more space. Some predict that the population of Kitsap County will nearly double in the next 20 years, going from a population of 250,000 to over 400,000.
A big part of this growth is people working in Seattle but coming to Kitsap County to purchase an affordable home. In many cases, these new residents will soon be looking for work within Kitsap County or to start their own company in order to be closer to where they live. So it is pretty clear growth is coming, so how will that impact the Port of Bremerton? It should be clear that if we prepare for the growth it could afford many economic development opportunities, but only if we are smart and provide an infrastructure at our Industrial Park and our Bremerton National Airport that will attract these new companies. We must develop a 2040 plan that anticipates what we need to do in the next few years.
If we are smart and I believe we are, we will work with the State to improve our transportation challenges - getting materials into and out of the Port property, including improving the Gorst interchange. We have to upgrade and install the most advanced internet and fiber optics systems available for our customers and their companies. I believe our Industrial Park should meet the needs of technology-driven companies as well as manufacturing companies. If we are to attract new jobs - and that is our mission - we must provide a working environment that meets the needs of all kinds of companies and their employees. And we haven’t even talked about the future of our wonderful Airport and our two world-class marinas.
The future will certainly offer a lot of opportunities for the Port of Bremerton but we must have a vision for that future and be prepared, one thing we know, nothing ever stays the same.