Mother Nature certainly manifested herself this winter! Despite the challenges presented by the record snowfall, endless school and facility closures and freezing temperatures, Richland still anticipates exciting opportunities and progress on significant milestones in 2017. The City of Richland continues to grow not only in population, but in diversity of business, culture and needs. It is our responsibility to manage this growth strategically and thoughtfully. We have stability, we have sustained economic growth, sound public safety, but most importantly, a united commitment to maintain an excellent quality of life.
In 2017, Richland will continue to prioritize economic development and focus on several key infrastructure projects. We will maintain momentum on the development of the Swift Avenue Corridor. With the recent completion of the Kadlec tower expansion and parking structure, progress on the second CBC Health Sciences Building, as well as our plans to break ground on the new Richland City Hall, this area continues to be a vital corridor in central Richland. We anticipate completion of needed street improvements as well as further opportunity for commercial development that will contribute to our vibrant and accessible waterfront.
Continuing progress on the Duportail Bridge project remains a priority. With the completion of the Duportail extension in 2016 and design nearly complete for the bridge, this important piece of infrastructure will be essential to linking South Richland to our waterfront. Funds were raised through state and local programs, yet we are still faced with a budget shortfall. Staff and city council continue to research available resources to fill the remaining funding gap. We are confident we will identify the right solution, allowing us to complete this significant project that benefits our entire region.
We are pleased to see continued growth in South Richland with retailers such as ULTA Beauty, MOD Pizza and Panera Bread expected to open this year. Expect much needed traffic improvements along Queensgate Boulevard that will assist with easing congestion and accommodating the growth.
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Washington remains a top-ranked state for small business enterprise. We have a dedicated Business and Economic Development team who maintains our recently updated business portal on our website. We continue to recruit and provide resources to individuals interested in starting a small business in our community.
With the acquisition of lands from DOE this past year, our efforts to promote large parcels of property in North Richland remain a priority. We are tracking the current expansions at Preferred Freezer and Lamb Weston and look forward to other large manufacturers choosing to call Richland home. The Tri-Cities region experienced one of the fastest growing job markets in 2016, and we attribute a portion of this to these large employers.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) remains the largest employer in Richland, generating over $1 billion of economic output into Washington state. Their advancements in science and engineering continually earn prestigious national and international recognition. This is happening right here in our community!
We continue progress on updating our Comprehensive Plan. Interested citizens are encouraged to join us for our public open houses. Here you can review draft recommendations and provide input on planning for Richland’s future.
What else can you expect from Richland in the coming year? Look for additional free, family-friendly events at the HAPO Community Stage and John Dam Plaza. This couldn’t be possible without our partnerships with HAPO and other local businesses. In additional to our seasonal signature events, we’ll expand to include other multi-cultural public events, concerts, community dances and programs to enhance health and safety in our community.
We love our community and our citizens and we look forward to an exciting year ahead!
For more information regarding upcoming Richland events, projects and priorities, visit www.ci.richland.wa.us.