Building back our businesses and economy will continue to be part art and part science. The more we can use reliable, relevant data to focus all those efforts, the better.
A free, interactive tool from AWB Institute brings together 30-plus key economic indicators — the “Vitals” — on an easy-to-use website. Designed for employers, business groups and other leaders, it makes it easy to find and track relevant, updated economic data on the county and MSA levels and statewide. You also can compare one area’s stats with another’s or against the state average.
The tool is designed to help communities track their progress toward six statewide areas of focus: recovery, talent, business environment, infrastructure and connectivity, entrepreneurship and innovation, and place and community. It’s part of Washington in the Making, a framework for the state’s economic recovery that envisions lasting prosperity in every community. It was developed by AWBI, which advocates for policy and programs for members of the Association for Washington Business.
As the Vitals show us, each county has its own strengths and challenges — opportunities to build on success and to make concerted efforts to improve. In the coming months, our chamber will be watching a half-dozen indicators important to Kitsap County’s economy. Combined, they show that this is a great place to do business.
• Taxable quarterly retail sales.
• Unemployment rate.
• Broadband access.
• Net jobs created.
• Median household income.
• Median home value.
Kitsap County’s taxable quarterly retail sales figures, for example, are strong — reflecting strong total economic activity. But it’s also a chance for us as a business community to amplify calls to steer that spending to local businesses, finding ways to encourage residents to shop local. And it’s useful for local businesses to know that consumers are ready and able to spend — and to keep taking advantage of tech opportunities, like online sales and curbside pickup, that customers have grown to love during the pandemic.
Also of interest: Our county’s median home value was $438,300 in Q4 of 2020.
Although we know the median is lower in South Kitsap, that figure represents a new high. Yet the comparison tool quickly shows us it’s lower than the state median and nearly all our neighboring counties’ home prices.
We encourage you to explore the Vitals on your own. It can be eye-opening for business owners and others interested in putting the numbers behind what we already know — Kitsap a great place to live and do business.