EDITORIAL: Coveting the region's most renewable resource
Everyone knows the economic monoliths that have driven the Puget Sound economy — Boeing and Microsoft.
That dominance in Seattle is being enhanced by high tech giant Amazon and other digital companies turning out job openings and service industry needs that support the sector, all of it proving there’s a good reason Seattle is worth a mention after Silicon Valley when national stories are published on booming tech markets.
So a Tweet in late July from the Seattle Times caught my eye — outdoor recreation provides as many jobs as the two giants I mentioned in the first sentence. Huh?
That nugget was tucked into a story about our Congressional delegation’s work to secure $30 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which could help pay for everything from municipal parks to improvements at Mount Rainier visitor areas.
But those 115,000 jobs are a significant detail. In the land of Microsoft millionaires and hotbed of tech, the most valuable economic resource may be the simple stuff nature offers — and fortunately, offers throughout the region in abundance.
That’s why we focused this issue of the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal on tourism, specifically tourism that’s tied to that booming outdoor industry. REI, after all, didn’t open a Silverdale store a year ago because we love pavement. There’s a strong thread running through this community — a trail network on the northern tip of the peninsula through the forestland of Mason County — that is being mentioned more and more often as a key driver to our local economy.
Visit Kitsap, the region’s tourism agency, has made recreation the top priority in luring visitors. Economic development efforts universally mention quality of life as an attraction, pointing most specifically at Kitsap’s access to water, a national park, and other open space that provides our beautiful backdrop. And a hike or a paddle is usually how I convince friends and family from across the water to visit the West Sound.
The Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal is covering the business end of that issue, and this edition hopefully highlights a few of the ways business owners and groups supported by private-public investment are working to market the area’s outdoor opportunities. But I’m also pointing out the Congressional delegation’s call for funding from the Land and Water Conversation Fund as a way to encourage you to learn more about the opportunities that exist there. If we continue building on what I’d consider the region’s most renewable natural resource —fall leaves show up again and again, and Pacific Northwest summer nights are the highlight each August — we’re on the right track toward a healthy, successful community.