Legislation that would allow Kennewick to create more industrial land within its urban growth area cleared hurdles this week in Olympia.
Barriers remain, including money for sewer and water services to the 1,600 acres south of Interstate 82 and west of Highway 395.
"The question is, 'Are we willing to invest in the infrastructure?' " said Mayor Steve Young.
No hands went up at Friday's all-day council retreat at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Councilman Bob Olson said, "Maybe we can make a deal with (Benton County) to get the infrastructure in place."
Senate Bill 5995 is designed to give Kennewick an application shortcut when seeking to expand urban growth area for industrial development. It sailed through the House on Monday. The next step is a return to the Senate for approval of an amendment, but it appears to be headed for Gov. Chris Gregoire's signature.
However, the issue of water and sewer service troubles Kennewick officials.
Jeff Kossow, the city's economic development director, said industrial developers are unlikely to be interested in Kennewick's industrially zoned property without sufficient infrastructure in the ground.
"We need to be ready. We don't know how we're going to do it. It'll be a challenge, Kossow added.
Kennewick planning director Greg McCormick said, "The city can't do this without showing it has resources available to extend to the future urban growth area."
Kossow said Kennewick missed several opportunities already because it doesn't have enough industrial land to offer within its current urban growth area.
Earlier at Friday's session, Carl Adrian, president of TRIDEC, told the council and top managers that the lack of sufficient industrial properties in Kennewick was critical. And that starts with the urban growth area.
"To me, that's the No. 1 priority," Adrian said. "Stay the course on the UGA issue."
Young said he realized the urgency of Kennewick's dearth of industrial land when Adrian told him of a developer with plans for a building of 1 million square feet. There were no suitable sites.
"The next day, I began working on getting our urban growth area expanded," Young said.
Friday's council retreat, which lasted six hours, included updates on several topics from experts in the Tri-Cities.
w Tim Arntzen of the Port of Kennewick reported on the Bridge to Bridge project involving properties between the cable bridge and Clover Island causeway.
w Shugart of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau spoke about tourist and revenue generation.
w Adrian talked about TRIDEC's vision for economic development.
w Peter Sullivan, an economist, and banker Ben Rutledge reported on financing trends affecting public agencies, businesses and developers.
w Al Haggerty of Lockheed Martin discussed return on investments.
w Renee Dahlgren of the Homebuilders Association of the Tri-Cities and Dave Retter, owner and broker of Windermere Real Estate/Tri-Cities, reported on real estate opportunities.