A diversified Whidbey economy is a healthy one

Editor,

Thank you for the coverage of meetings introducing Michael Shuman’s report: “Invisible Costs: the $122 million price tag of NASWI.” Judging by the number of comments you quickly received online, your coverage has stimulated a conversation.

The report can be read in its entirety at: https://sustainable-economy-collaborative.com. The calculations are based on government data, all sources are cited and the methods and assumptions are clearly stated. Follow-on studies and improvements from anyone are welcome.

The motivation (to answer Commissioner Jill Johnson) is to better understand the complete picture of the impact of Island County’s largest employer. Previous reports have listed only benefits, so the Sustainable Economy Collaborative (SEC) commissioned Mr. Shuman to take a first step at understanding some of the costs.

Members of SEC sent several communications including personal invitations to 49 elected officials in order to arrange meetings with Mr. Shuman, either in private or in a larger setting with other public officials. Only four officials responded affirmatively and those meetings were very informative.

Attendees at the public meetings responded extremely positively to the intention: create a civil dialog based on facts to understand how to balance the benefits and the costs of our largest employer. An economy too dependent on a single employer is fragile and vulnerable to decisions made remotely by those with interests other than the health of the local economy.

The report is not anti-Navy, rather pro-common sense. No one is disparaging the skill, bravery and contributions of the those serving at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Indeed, several SEC members are former military and understand the sacrifices that those serving are asked to make.

Our desire is that this discussion will spur a serious effort to diversify our economy so that we do not have all our economic eggs in a single basket.

LARRY MORRELL

Sustainable Economy Collaborative

Langley

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