Port backs EDC mission

"Tom Shaughnessy, director of the Island District Economic Development Council, received moral and financial support from the Port of South Whidbey Wednesday night.The EDC, partially funded by taxpayers, has come under some criticism recently, particularly in Langley, for promoting controversial projects such as the defunct Saratoga resort and the proposed gas station complex in Freeland at Fish Road and Highway 525.Shaughnessy stopped by primarily to thank the port commissioners for contributing a few thousand dollars to the upcoming Uniquely Whidbey Trade Fair. Advertising, he said. That's what we need your money for. But the discussion soon turned to the EDC's role in promoting development.Commissioner Jan Smith, president of the port board, endorsed efforts to increase sales tax collections, such as Walmart. A lot of Southend people shop Walmart, said Shaughnessy, pointing out that Island County sales tax revenue increased 17 percent last year, mostly in Oak Harbor.Smith encouraged Shaughnessy to continue efforts to convince people to shop local at local business.Tom Roehl, port consultant, scoffed at the idea the the EDC should be doing something other than development work. The whole purpose of the EDC is not to have a balance, he said.Shaughnessy noted that development is a major statewide goal of Gov. Gary Locke, and he lauded Langley resident Kent Myers for building a shopping center on Camano Island, where Shaughnessy lives.I've lived there all my life and I've yet to buy a pair of shoes on Camano Island, Shaugnessy said. We're getting there. "

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