Economic alliance supports racial equity

In a recently published letter from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance entitled, “Together We Stand in the Fight Against Racial Injustice,” the organization stated it would stand in unity against racial injustice and police brutality, following the May 25 murder of George Floyd. KEDA also pledged to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force to move these issues forward in the local community. Here is the letter in full.

The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) denounces the murder of George Floyd and stands together with the black community as allies in the fight against racism and injustice.

For 37 years, the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance has worked directly with thousands of local businesses, connecting them to new strategic resources and relationships that expand their business horizons and opportunities in Kitsap and beyond.

At its core, our work is about community development. Today, that role as agents, facilitators and leaders of community development has never been more important. We don’t have all the answers, and we fully acknowledge that we have work to do to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within our own organization, services and programming.

In that spirit of humility and commitment to action, we unite with our partners from across the county in calling for an end to racism and injustice against black, native, and people of color. These inequities must end on all fronts of our community: justice, criminal and civic, education, health care, housing, employment, and economic opportunities.

We are committed to listening, learning, and doing better and believe that our Alliance is uniquely positioned to affect transformational change in Kitsap, particularly as it pertains to economic development.

KEDA’s 2020 Action Plan, adopted on March 27th, commits to “create a platform for more diverse perspectives and voices of leaders at all levels of Kitsap organizations” (see kitsapeda.org/about/). Over the coming weeks, and with a new spirit of urgency, KEDA will be working to establish a specific Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force that will provide concrete recommendations to our Board of Directors on how KEDA can deliver on that commitment with tangible and lasting impact.

As we enter into this work, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting the growth, resiliency, and diversity of our local Kitsap economy:

• Will work with renewed purpose and intention to ensure that we are fully serving black, native and minority-owned businesses in Kitsap, championing their success and prosperity, and making sure they feel fully welcome and part of our shared community, commerce and future;

• Look forward to learning from and working with community leaders throughout Kitsap who have deep experience and expertise in effectively fighting racism, inequity and injustice in our society;

• Wholeheartedly invite your support, input, partnership and participation.

These are critically important times for our community. We don’t have all the answers. But we’re here, we’re listening, and we’re committed to actively co-creating a vibrant and inclusive community that supports the growth and attraction of businesses, people and entrepreneurs who love Kitsap just as much as we do.

Sincerely Yours,

Nathan Evans, KEDA Board Chair; John Powers KEDA Executive Director

Editor’s Note: Terry Ward, vice president of Sound Publishing, is a member of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance’s board of directors.

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