Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce goes to Olympia

Murrow News ServiceFebruary 6, 2014 

OLYMPIA -- The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce touted the area's trade strengths and addressed transportation needs Thursday in Olympia.

Lori Mattson, the chamber's president and CEO, gave a presentation to the state House Transportation Committee.

Mattson said that if a transportation package can be put together and passed, the Tri-Cities would appreciate benefiting from it.

"Unlike a lot of communities, we don't have these mega-projects, but we have these local projects," she said. "We believe that investing transportation dollars in the Tri-Cities is a very sound investment."

Austin Neilson, the chamber's government and economic affairs coordinator, said "the Tri-Cities has it all. We have air, we have rail, we have great roads."

Several area transportation projects were addressed, including Kennewick's Highway 395 and Ridgeline Drive interchange, a $25 million project Mattson said would help fuel urban growth in the region.

Also mentioned were:

-- Pasco's Lewis Street overpass project to replace an 80-year-old overpass at a cost of about $25 million.

-- Richland's Duportail bridge, a $30 million project to improve connectivity and development.

-- The Red Mountain transportation project, a two-phase, $30 million project promoting economic development and tourism by providing better access to the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area and the city of West Richland.

Mattson also highlighted the area's thriving wine industry, which she said grows and processes more than 100,000 tons of grapes each year.

Mattson also mentioned the viticulture education provided by Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland. The region also will be home to the Wine Science Center, under construction at the branch campus.

"Wine is big business in Washington, and wine is also big business in the Tri-Cities," she said.

Mattson told the committee that the Tri-Cities grows more than 2.5 million tons of potatoes, more than 100,000 tons of wheat, 650,000 tons of hay, and 800,000 tons of apples annually.

In addition, the Tri-Cities is among the top five regions nationally in post-recession growth, she said.

Home to about 268,000 people, the region's population is expected to surpass 400,000 in the next 25 years, Mattson said.

-- Washington State University student Matt Benoit: 509-947-9277, mbenoit@tricityherald. com; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit_

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