BI considers contract to help local businesses

With many local businesses still feeling the economic effects of COVID-19, the Bainbridge Island City Council is considering preparing a contract with the Kitsap Small Business Development Center for $10,000.

According to a council presentation Tuesday, the center provides expert business advising to develop successful, resilient businesses in support of thriving local economies. SBDC helps Kitsap small businesses navigate critical resources and develop new strategies.

“I think this is critical work because frankly, our local businesses are hurting,” Councilmember Joe Deets said. “Our businesses need all the help they can get.”

The city of Poulsbo has provided them $10,000 per year for three years, and SBDC has asked for that type of commitment from other local governments.

On Bainbridge, the council is only considering the contract for one year using COVID funding but could renew the contract once they have a more detailed approach for long-term funding.

“We don’t have a department of economic development like the city of Poulsbo does,” Councilmember Christy Carr said. “I’m just wondering where in the context of the city of Bainbridge Island, does this land and should we have a more comprehensive strategy for how the city enters this arena.”

SBDC has served 218 businesses in Kitsap, 44 of which are on Bainbridge. Areas of counseling on BI consist of 40 percent for COVID support, 16 percent for business plan, 16 percent for managing a business, 12 percent for start-up assistance, 11 percent for marketing/sales, and 5 percent for other.

In Kitsap, small businesses make up 98 percent of firms (under 100 employees) and provide 51 percent of jobs, according to the presentation. Kitsap’s SBDC has supported 841 local jobs equating to about $60 million in total client sales. That means for every dollar of funding they receive, their clients generated over $22 in new investment for the community.

Along with Poulsbo, other local stakeholders consist Kitsap Bank, Kitsap Credit Union, First Federal, and Kitsap Regional Library. Complementary missions include Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, local lenders, Kitsap chambers of commerce and Kitsap downtown associations.

SBDC’s core services include; Business Development Advising: one-on-one, confidential, no-cost; Applied Research: supporting competitive intelligence via secondary market research; and Continuing Education: group training and webinars. Funding comes from the Small Business Administration, Western Washington University and the SBDC.

The council will consider this agenda item at a future meeting.