KENNEWICK -- Ports largely are about promoting economic development and creating jobs, but they also help improve the quality of life in the community.
That was the message representatives from the ports of Kennewick, Benton and Pasco gave Wednesday at the State of the Ports luncheon, sponsored by the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
It's nice to know the ports work together while they try to create jobs, said Bill and Meredith Farris of Richland. They were among more than 200 Tri-Citians who attended the program at the Kennewick Red Lion Hotel. The ports can help develop a post-Hanford vision, Meredith said.
The Port of Kennewick has reduced its levy rate by 22 percent since 2001, while increasing the people's equity by $29.1 million said Port Commissioner Skip Novakovich.
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"We carefully invest your money," he said, to develop infrastructure, to create jobs, diversify business and to help make the community a better place to live in.
The port built a lighthouse, an arched gateway and installed public art on Clover Island to make it a waterfront destination.
It plans to develop a wine village at the intersection of Interstate 82 and Dallas Road in partnership with Richland and the property owner for tourism and job growth, he said.
Jim Toomey, executive director of the Port of Pasco, shared details of the ongoing projects at the port. The port is replacing the old warehouse roofs and improving rail tracks at the Big Pasco Industrial Center to help the area become a major multi-modal transportation hub.
The port also is updating the Tri-Cities Airport's master plan to take into account future growth. Passenger boardings have continued to grow with more direct flights to various destinations from Pasco, he said.
The Port of Benton has helped create about 2,000 jobs since it was established in 1958, said Diahann Howard, the port's director of economic development and government affairs. The port offers a cluster of properties to suit various types of businesses, she said.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org