Bremerton’s Tech Economy is Small, but Steady

WTC’s 2005 Index of Innovation & Technology shows Kitsap region rates high in industry growth and financial capacity; more patents and stronger workforce could accelerate growth

Seattle, Wash. – June 7, 2005 – Bremerton may just be the hero of an economic David and Goliath tale – proving that size is not always the best indicator of strength. According to the Washington Technology Center’s 2005 Index of Innovation & Technology, unlike many of its neighboring western Washington urban centers, which are still struggling under the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Bremerton continued to experience growth during this turbulent time and revitalize its economy.
The Index, an annual benchmark report on Washington’s performance, includes detailed data on 12 regions in the state, and evaluates them against critical drivers necessary to support a technology-driven economy.

Bremerton scored well in several key categories, especially with respect to growth. Bremerton experienced positive changes in employment (2 percent growth) in both general and in technology sectors, and ranked third among all 12 regions measured for technology company start-ups in relation to overall business establishments. The region also experienced growth in all three of its dominant technology industries (Custom Computer Programming, Software Publishing, Management Consulting).*

Bremerton emerged strong this year in the Index. In contrast to the larger metropolitan areas which experienced either a loss or no growth this year, Bremerton exhibited small but steady growth. This is a good indicator of future growth potential.

Bremerton also fared well in both financial capacity measures, placing fifth in both federal grant awards (SBIR) and private placements per capita. Given the recent recession and the size of the community, this performance is outstanding.

Promoting the region’s strengths and channeling resources towards improvement areas should result in continued growth and vitality for Kitsap County. According to 2005 Index, areas where Bremerton could improve include encouraging more companies to develop and market their intellectual property. Bremerton didn’t rate high in patents generated and technology jobs only make up just over 5 percent of the region’s employment base.

“Although Bremerton historically has not been a haven for technology-driven enterprise, the emergence of such companies as Paladin Data, eAcceleration, Dimension-4, and Mercury On Line Solutions has transformed the marketing and business recruiting landscape,” notes David Porter, Executive Director of the Kitsap Region Economic Development Council.”

The region also faces challenges in human potential. Bremerton placed in the bottom three for high school graduates (64.4%) and only 65 percent of fourth grade students met WASL standards for math and science proficiency. This decreased to only 48 percent at the 10th grade level. These indicators are important in determining if a region can supply the skilled workforce required by technology companies.

“Notwithstanding the challenge of improving performance in certain educational sectors, site consultants and corporate real estate professionals continue to be drawn to the quality of the region’s workforce,” Porter explains. “This includes the abundance of highly skilled Navy personnel that regularly exit military service here.”

WTC’s Index also includes a profile of Washington’s strengths comparing to other U.S. states. Washington has traditionally scored well on a number of indicators which points to the state’s ability to sustain a technology economy. For the fifth year consecutive year, Washington claimed the top spot for new company creation. Patent activity remained strong. Over 1,400 technology patents were generated, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. This number has continued to climb since the Index was first published in 2000. Other significant trends for Washington include: One in ten jobs today is within a technology industry; Eleven out of the 12 regions showed growth in at least one of their core technology industries; Software saw the highest increase in employment and national dominance since 1998; Venture Investment in Biotechnology nearly doubled, increasing from 8 to 15 percent.

The 2005 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology can be downloaded from WTC’s website at http://www.watechcenter.org/. This year’s Index received sponsorship support from the following partner organizations: Kitsap Regional Economic Development Center, Spokane Area EDC, INTEC, enterpriseSeattle, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

*Statistical data in the 2005 Index is from 2003, the most recent available at the time of publication.

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