EDITORIAL | New boat company demonstrates hope for harbor project

South Whidbey Harbor’s expansion, the long-planned, shaped and reshaped project that sustained too many set backs to count, is finally complete.

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place Friday afternoon and many a dignitary, from local officials to state and federal lawmakers, was in attendance. They played instrumental roles in making the project a reality, and their efforts should be congratulated, but perhaps the most important entity there was not a person at all. It was Whidbey Island Charters or, rather, what it represents.

The fledgling business held a grand opening the very same afternoon, making the company the first to take advantage of the new facility and the embodiment of a long-pursued and at times controversial dream.

The marina expansion is, first and foremost, a vision of economic development. The idea behind the project is simple: provide more space and water-based businesses and tourists may just spend a bit more time, and a few bucks, on the South End.

To see this dream come true, Port of South Whidbey leaders supplied the sweat, taxpayers footed the bill — many unwillingly — and they were rewarded with a brand new business on the day of the ribbon cutting.

Whidbey Island Charter’s owners say it was the expansion that pushed them to open their doors. Like a barnacle to a freshly painted boat hull, the new floats were enticing enough to risk opening a new business largely based of the fickle tides of tourism.

Profitable marine businesses, particularly those geared toward the visitor industry, are inherently challenging to make profitable. Many sink in the first year, yet some succeed and we wish the South End’s newest marine merchants the best.

But whatever the company’s fate, it is already a measure of success, for it’s the first evidence that this long and difficult project is doing what it was designed to do — attract new business and foster economic development.

May Whidbey Island Charters be the first of many new water-based businesses to call South Whidbey Harbor home.


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