Opinion

Sound Works is a sound investment | In Our Opinion

Sound Works Job Center, a Poulsbo-based nonprofit agency, is celebrating 25 years of helping unemployed individuals prepare for and find employment.

It’s celebrating that anniversary by trying to stay alive and find a new home.

Sound Works was founded in 1988 and moved to 780 Iverson St. in 1995. The building is owned by the city, which notified Sound Works it must move to make room for an expansion of Coffee Oasis next door.

Sound Works averages more than 2,000 client visits a year. Executive director Bob Middlebrook and volunteers provide free employment counseling, resume and job application writing, interview training, and job placement support services. Sound Works also helps clients write their civil service resumes for employment at the local Navy bases.

Residents from anywhere in Kitsap County can use Work Source’s no-cost services, including free access to the Internet for job-related research.For employers, Sound Works maintains a computerized pool of potential employees, connects them to qualified workers for permanent and temporary positions, and matches skills to job requirements. Again, at no cost.

According to Middlebrook, individuals who have found employment through Sound Works have returned approximately $1 million per year back to the local economy. That’s a big return for the city’s investment.

To provide “Employment Administration” services, as it is listed in the city’s 2013 budget, the city provides Sound Works a grant of $2,500 for the year — down from $5,000 in 2011 — and rent-free space. Sound Works makes up the rest of its budget with grants and fundraising. Contributors include the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, the Suquamish Tribe, Kitsap Community Foundation, and Bainbridge Community Foundation.

Here’s an option we’d like to see pursued: Allow Sound Works to move into the old police station on Hostmark Street. Take the building off the market and convert it into a business incubator, where emerging businesses can rent space at low cost and invest their resources on growing. Sound Works and emerging businesses are a good fit.

Another option: A commercial property owner makes otherwise vacant office space available to Sound Works. Sound Works could provide maintenance service in exchange for rent and as job training, and the property owner could get a tax break.

There are other solutions out there. But it is in the city’s best interest to help Sound Works. Without jobs, people won’t spend money, and that affects the city’s sales tax revenue. Sales tax revenue helps pay for core services. Without jobs, the demand for social services increases.

“The work we do is so essential not only for individuals and their families, but in supporting the vitality of the region,” Middlebrook said. “If people can’t find work in this area, they leave. We also want Kitsap businesses to thrive and to find good local talent.”

If you have an idea of a new office for Sound Works, contact Middlebrook at 779-1160, or soundworks@silverlink.net.

 

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