New jobs, improved streets and more tourism are coming to the Mid-Columbia, thanks to five grants totaling $300,000.
The Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund, or HAEIF, awarded economic development grants Monday to four cities -- Pasco, Richland, Connell and West Richland -- and the Port of Kennewick.
The HAEIF was established in 1991 by state law with the express purpose of diversifying the Tri-City economy beyond Hanford.
"The idea was to combat the gloom and doom of those first big Hanford layoffs," said Ruth Swain, economic development director for the city of West Richland.
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The money comes from a portion of the fees collected by the U.S. Department of Ecology for storage of low-level waste at Hanford, said Carl Adrian, president and CEO of the Tri-City Development Council.
Since 1994, the HAEIF has awarded more than $15 million to area businesses and municipalities in Benton and Franklin counties.
With the Tri-Cities facing layoffs this fall, the grants are a welcome reminder the area is made up of more than Hanford, Swain said.
This year's grants were:
-- $75,000 to the Port of Kennewick to be used to renovate the Oak Street Development Building.
Port Commissioner Skip Novakovich said the port will match the grant and use the money to upgrade the electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the nearly 30-year-old building vacated by TiSport when it moved into its own building. The port also will reconfigure the building, making several smaller units to attract new start up businesses.
-- $75,000 to the city of Pasco to help pay for the Kahlotus Highway sewer pumping station.
There are several light industrial businesses in the vicinity of the Lewis Street interchange, including a dairy, which have the potential to expand but need access to city sewage to do so, said Gary Crutchfield, Pasco city manager.
"The city has extended the sewage lines but, because the land on the east side of the highway is lower than that on the west -- the side where the sewage treatment plant is located -- (and) needs the pumping station," Crutchfield said.
The grant represents about 20 percent to 25 percent of the cost of the pumping station estimated to cost between $350,000 and $400,000.
"But every dollar helps," he said.
-- $50,000 to the city of Richland to help pay for the wine science center at Washington State University Tri-Cities.
"The city has already contributed $25,000 and the Port of Benton the property. We're also hoping for up to $75,000 in private donations," said Cindy Johnson, Richland city manager. "In this area a wine science center will go a long way to develop the industry which will increase tourism."
-- $50,000 to the city of Connell to extend an access road from Garfield Road to the southwest corner of the city's 30-acre industrial site.
"The city will match the grant with money from the street fund, said Mayor Gary Walton. "This should help all of north Franklin County."
-- $50,000 to the city of West Richland to continue the Van Giesen Street redevelopment project.
"We have already received local matching funds," said Mayor Donna Noski. "Plans are to continue working on the Yakima River gateway and on down the Van Giesen corridor improving the look and business opportunities of West Richland.
Rogers Weed, director of the state Department of Commerce, also spoke about awards.
"Jobs are the governor's top priority. These grants do much for jobs, growth and development in Benton and Franklin counties," he said. "These grants are by the community to the community and that increases the chances of improvement in the short term. I'm looking forward to watching these projects develop in the coming years."
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org