Sustainable Economy Collaborative

In 2016 a diverse group of residents of Island County, Washington, with both civilian and military backgrounds, came together to investigate the opportunities and obstacles to building a thriving, just, and sustainable local economy. They understood that economies like Island County’s that depend on a single large employer—in their case, the US Navy—appear to be strong but actually are quite vulnerable to forces beyond their control. Previous published works had focused on gross wages paid by the Navy, but many other questions were not being asked:

  • What are the hidden costs of NASWI to Island County and its residents?
  • How much does the Navy contribute to property and sales tax, on which the county depends?
  • What taxpayer-funded infrastructure and services do the Navy use that is not fully compensated through taxes?
  • How might our revenues from our parks and tourist attractions be impacted from NASWI planned programs?
  • How do the Navy’s economic impacts, such as its purchasing from local merchants, compare with those of other private businesses?
  • What are the external costs of the currently proposed expansion of the Navy’s Growler training program?
  • How might Island County begin to think more seriously about the possibility of “military conversion”?

The SEC proudly presents Michael Shuman’s answers to those  questions for which there is available data and analysis tools. We hope this study opens an important conversation in Island County and the State about the costs and benefits of brittle dependency on the military for our prosperity and stimulates debate and further research so we can steadily and rationally make our local economies more diverse, healthy, prosperous, and resilient.

The Sustainable Economy Collaborative Island County, Washington
February 2017