Letter: Tri-Cities needs more economic diversity

December 26, 2013 

I am concerned about the short-sightedness of our planning commissions. Fifteen years ago, Hanford contracts included a clause to contribute to new business in the Mid-Columbia, intending those jobs would offset the planned Hanford downsizing. The results were never fully met and the new businesses are a few engineering consultant firms dependent on Hanford.

Benton County alone has more than 30 hotels and motels already established, with at least five of them on the river and/or with river views. Yet except for the parks, our event facilities are far from the river. Tourism is great for tax revenue, but tourists do not vote. They will not get your facilities expanded, pay for school bonds or an aquatics center.

Other cities have found ways to mix business with tourism in prime areas. The residents, who actually do support the community with property taxes and other revenue, also enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Surely, a little more effort toward diversifying our riverfront properties than to simply build another hotel is in order.

Perhaps the planning commissions should investigate what it will take to get companies that pay family wages away from their current locations and into the Tri-Cities.


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