Kitsap Economic Champions honored at KEDA 2022 Annual Meeting & Economic Preview Event

Kitsap Economic Champions honored at KEDA 2022 Annual Meeting & Economic Preview Event Main Photo

7 Apr 2022

Economy, NEWS RELEASE, Annual Meeting, Business Development, News





SILVERDALE, WA  -- The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (“KEDA”) held a virtual annual meeting on March 30th, presenting its 2021 Annual Report, 2022 priorities and plan, electing officers and voting on new and renewing directors to the KEDA board.  Featured speaker and housing economist, Skylar Olsen, Tomo Economics, and Western Washington University economists, Hart Hodges and James McCafferty, presented economic data and offered insights on the direction of the economy.


faces of four people. Bruce Harlow, Steve Politakis, Kathy Cocus, Greg George

Awarding Economic Champion honors is a highlight of KEDA’s Annual Meetings and this year four community members were recognized, including a posthumous Lifetime Economic Champion award in honor of Rear Admiral Bruce A. Harlow JAGC, U.S. Navy (Ret.) who passed away last year. The award recognized Harlow’s service to country, and many contributions to Kitsap County, including his passion for engaging and encouraging a love of marine science in young people as manifested in his work and leadership with the reopening of the SEA Discovery Center in Poulsbo. A donation to Western Washington University’s SEA Discovery Center is being made in the Admiral’s honor.

Steve Politakis, CEO of Kitsap Bank and outgoing KEDA Board member and Past Chair was recognized for his leadership and service to the community. Port Orchard mayor, Rob Putaansuu, a former colleague of Politakis’ presented the award. Putaansuu spoke of their shared goal to redevelop downtown Port Orchard and noted that Politakis is one of Kitsap’s strongest champions of economic development. “During Steve’s term as Chair from 2014 -2015, he worked to grow private sector investment, and provided strong and stable leadership” noting that, “under his leadership KEDA won national awards.”

Kathy Cocus, KEDA Business Development Director, who will be retiring this coming October, after twenty-one years at KEDA, was recognized for her achievements and economic development work in Kitsap County. Susan Veach, KEDA accountant and owner of Accountability Plus, praised Cocus’ work saying, “There is no area of business or community that [Cocus has] not influenced or brought resources and hope to. Under your leadership KEDA’s PTAC  [government contracting assistance program has become one that] is envied across the state.” 

Anna Reyes-Potts, General Manager, TMF CNC Machining, praised Cocus stating “Kathy lives and breathes economic development, she knows every business and has her finger on the pulse of Kitsap business.” 

Greg George, Port Madison Enterprises Board President & KEDA Executive Board was recognized for his leadership on the KEDA Board.  In an interview with George, KEDA executive director, Joe Morrison recognized his influence and work with KEDA’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force and asked about his perspective.  In response, Mr. George commented that it has exposed and caused him to evaluate and correct his own individual prejudices. Saying, “I appreciate what DEI [Task Force] is doing and it feels good to be a part of that. Knowing that we’re getting our board and membership and involved – it’s a big step.”



KEDA Staff presented the 2021 Annual Report. Focus during year two of the pandemic was on supporting small businesses, and organizational improvements. Highlights include; administering a small business grant program for the City of Bainbridge Island; promoting federal, state and local economic relief programs; creating a new website; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work including partnering with the City of Bremerton to conduct two BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Business Forums, the selection of NEXT Organizational  Consultants; and work by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Working Group, which included the now funded $500K Innovation Cluster Accelerator Grant, WAV-C (Washington Autonomous Vehicle Cluster). Supporting small businesses was also prioritized via the Shop.Eat.Spend.Kitsap shop local campaign and monthly webinar series (Kitsap Digital Hour) and PTAC program.

KEDA Executive Director, Joe Morrison presented an ambitious plan for 2022 with a primary focus on business retention and recovery; continuing the work of KEDA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force; implementing the WAV-C grant program and identifying new opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation; and continuing to focus on defense and government contracting opportunities for Kitsap businesses, and creating organizational efficiencies and growing private sector revenue.

Documents, presentations, and video can be viewed on KEDA’s website at

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In board elections, three directors were reelected for additional terms, including Shawn Gilfedder, CEO of Kitsap Credit Union; Wes Larson, President of Sound West Group; and Terry Ward, Vice President of Sound Publishing. New directors elected to three-year terms were Holly Hill, Senior Director of Western Locations, Outreach and Continuing Education for Western Washington University; Chad Melton, President of St. Michael Medical Center; Jay Mills, Ambassador for Port Madison Enterprises; and Steve Maxwell, Vice President & Chief Lending Officer for Kitsap Bank.  

New KEDA Board Officers were elected as Chair Nathan Evans, Principal Software Architect for Microsoft,  passed the gavel to Erin Leedham, General Manager of Kitsap Mall. Lynette Ladenburg, CEO of Martha and Mary was elected to Vice Chair, and Roger Newton, owner of Newton Building & Development was elected to Treasurer. Nathan Evans assumed the role of Immediate Past Chair.

Photos of Executive Team