Kennewick’s downtown core, development efforts in the Bridge-to-Bridge area and Vista Field all could benefit from a national competition.
Kennewick is one of 50 communities making it to the quarterfinals and winning $50,000 in America’s Best Communities contest, sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel.
The top three communities in the competition won’t be determined for another two years, but the winners take home a total of $6 million, with half going to the first-place winner.
The city’s application was filed by the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-City Development Council, or TRIDEC, with the city government, Port of Kennewick and Visit Tri-Cities as partners. Officials said the effort is more than a year in the making and ties into a recent regional rebranding initiative and projects aimed to drive traffic to the area.
“The whole idea is to make this a better community,” said Carl Adrian, president and CEO of TRIDEC.
The competition began in September and aims to drive economic revitalization. Executives with Frontier met with the chamber, TRIDEC and others about entering, said Lori Mattson, the chamber’s president and CEO, and local officials saw the contest as a way to advance efforts already under way, such as a wine village on Columbia Drive being pursued by the port and city and proposed plans for the city’s former airport.
“The opportunity seemed real and it is real and exciting,” Mattson said.
The $50,000 is earmarked for developing strategies for bolstering the local economy and quality of life. Part of that money will come from a corporate sponsor assigned to work with local officials on their plans.
“Kennewick’s success in the competition didn’t just happen,” said Mike Towne, Frontier’s vice president and general manager in Eastern Washington in a release. “It’s the result of hard-working people and determined local businesses coming together to make their communities great places to live, work and raise a family.”
Chamber and TRIDEC officials have some time to develop plans before the next stage of the contest; 15 communities will be named semi-finalists in January and will each receive another $100,000 each.
“Just to be selected, even in the first round, says a lot about the community,” Adrian said.