City works to define ‘economic development’

Last May, the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce submitted an issue paper to the city that discussed the island’s economic development.

The white paper came as a response to the city’s call for conversation on how to better protect the island from another recession.

Since the white paper was submitted, however, the conversation on the city’s economic development has taken a different turn. Now, city leaders are asking residents to open the dialogue and share what “economic development” means to them.

In partnership with the city, the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association will be hosting a public forum at city hall from 7 to

9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. The forum will be asking residents, “What does economic development mean to you?” Through the forum, the city hopes to get a better idea of which direction they should pursue in improving the local economy.

Business owner and the chamber’s chairman of the board, Jeff Waite, suggested in the chamber’s white paper last May that the island could benefit by attracting business executives to live on the island. Ultimately these executives would bring their businesses with them to the community and provide more jobs.

The white paper was met with both agreement and uncertainty from island leaders.

Andie Mackin, the executive director of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, instead pointed to the fragility of depending on executives for the local economy. As CEOs lost jobs in the recent recession, she said, their families left the community and the local housing market, employment and school enrollment were directly impacted.

Colleen Blake from Agreement Dynamics will lead the open discussion on Sept. 12 at Bainbridge Island City Hall.

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