June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:41 PM
"Why we want to invest in the FarmPeople have been asking me why I want to be involved in the Greenbank Farm. It's simple: Family. Three years ago, the people of Island County said they wanted the Farm to be a vibrant, thriving gathering place for the community. I want that dream to be realized for my daughters as they grow up.To help build that dream, I presented a proposal to the Port of Coupeville to manage the Farm. My proposal includes both a non-profit company and a for-profit company working in tandem to oversee the Farm.The non-profit company, Whidbey History Preservation Society (WHiPS), is responsible for managing the retail shop, hosting the many community events, and the Loganberry Festival. WHiPS is the fundraising, and grant writing arm and implements the use of donations and grants. The Community Development Team (CDT) is the for-profit corporation that will perform the drudgework such as: fixing the well and making sure the plumbing and electrical work. Like a building superintendent, CDT will make sure things run correctly, fix problems, and ensure that the landlords (the Port & the People) are happy with how things are going.It is important that we have two companies. The non-profit company will ensure the preservation of the Farm and manage and protect donations and grants. The for-profit company will contribute capital for start-up costs. Money is available immediately to fund projects pending for the past few years that will contribute to the integrity and commitment of the Community's vision of the Farm.Someone asked why a greedy corporation should run the Farm. A greedy corporation should not! I do not consider myself a greedy corporation. I am an experienced business leader and a member of the Greenbank community. I chose to take action when I thought the Farm might be at risk. I personally own 60 percent of CDT; the other 40 percent is held by a venture capital / business consulting firm I founded with some close friends.Whidbey Island has a long history of generous people giving money to good causes and forming socially responsible companies that do good things. These companies, like CDT, invest money for the good of community.The Community Development Team chooses to invest in the Greenbank Farm. The Farm is a worthy and attainable dream that won't make anyone rich, but it will provide a sizable tax write-off while doing meaningful work for our community.There are a myriad of details which couldn't be addressed in this space. I'd like to tell you some of the pertinent facts:*The people of Island County have clearly articulated their vision and goals for the Greenbank Farm. The Community Development Team is a community-centered business answerable to the community and reviewed by the Port. The lease will state that CDT must honor the wishes of the community.*We will pay rent immediately upon signing the lease, and on a regular basis so the Port can pay off the bond. We do not expect any money from the Port.*Both WHiPS and CDT will have advisory councils comprised of concerned members of the community and experienced professionals thus ensuring public input and direction for the executive teams of both companies As soon as our proposal is accepted, we will look to the community to fill the council and board. The election process will not be done in secret nor in isolation. An effective board and council must be built from committed community members with specialized skills important to the team. *WHiPS will actively pursue additional funds for the Farm through grants and donations. These will support individual projects at the Farm.*Our solid business background and expertise will help people translate dreams into viable business plans. We will be there to assist when needed.*Both companies of our team are ready to go right now. Farm operations will continue without interruption.Why should we manage the Greenbank Farm? Because we have the experience, the funding, and the commitment to make the dream happen.Personally, I want to dance with my daughters in a real barn. I want them to have a place for their 4-H projects, a place to run, to laugh, to meet friends, new and old; a place to gather and celebrate as a community: The Greenbank Farm.>Franc Sawatzki is president of the Community Development Team, one of two groups vying to operate the publicly-owned Greenbank Farm. "