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KEDA director off to fast start

The new director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) reported for duty on Monday, immediately jumping on a treadmill of introductory meetings with local business and government leaders.

“My expectations of the job have already been confirmed,” said William Stewart, “that it will be challenging and fun. I expect to do a lot of listening over the next few weeks, to learn about different priorities and perspectives.”

KEDA operated for nearly two years without a director, during which time the agency was headed by Interim Director Kathy Cocus, who did not seek the job permanently.

Cocus, who was business recruitment and retention director under former Director David Porter, said her future role has yet to be determined. “We will wait until we are all here before defining how we will all work together,” she said.

Economic progress has not stopped during this time, however. The Kitsap 20/20 plan for economic development was developed and refined, setting future direction.

Stewart said much of his job will be the implementation of those recommendations, with specifics yet to be determined.

Stewart is currently scheduling individual meetings with each of the 18 KEDA board members, and will also meet with local elected officials and department heads.

He also expects to make some large-group appearances, although they have not yet been scheduled.

“Each board member will have their individual perspectives,” Stewart said. “This depends on where they live and who they represent. This kind of discussion is best done one-on-one.”

The meeting schedule will be spread over the next month or so with some days containing up to five meetings, Stewart said.

His guiding principles are outlined by Kitsap 20/20, a list of guidelines for bringing jobs to the region.

“The vision of Kitsap 20/20 is pretty clear,” Stewart said. “We just aren’t sure about the tactical pieces and how we are going to leverage the work between our partners and other entities.”

Stewart, 59, plans to keep his Seattle residence for the time being and commute to work on the Bremerton ferry.

He said his living in Seattle for the time being does not lessen his commitment to the job.

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