Progress Edition

Port of Pasco: Catalyst for growth

The North Franklin Visitor’s Center is a community effort to define an economic development project for the northern area of the Port’s District.
The North Franklin Visitor’s Center is a community effort to define an economic development project for the northern area of the Port’s District. Courtesy Port of Pasco

The Port of Pasco has a long history of acting as a catalyst to promote significant changes and action in our port district and region. This past year was certainly no exception.

A catalyst for business development

It’s been a time of ribbon cutting and groundbreaking at the port, particularly near the airport. Ribbons were cut at Musser Bros. Auto & Truck Auction, Gauntt Northwest and Federal Express as each opened new or expanded facilities. Shovels went into the ground to celebrate new construction for The Courtyard by Marriott TC/Pasco Airport and for a new hangar to serve as ground base for the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Research program operated by Battelle.

In addition, the port completed a $5.7 million project replacing 475,000 square feet of ramp on the general aviation side of the airport.

And, if we could, we would cut another ribbon because in 2018, the Tri-Cities Airport broke a record with more than 785,000 people flying in and out of our airport.

A catalyst for innovation

In 1959, the port assumed ownership of Big Pasco’s 600 acres of land, railroad tracks, streets and over 1.7 million square feet of buildings – buildings designed to be a temporary consignment depot during World War II.

Through sound investments in refurbishing and maintenance, the site is not only still open for business, it is operating at its highest capacity in recent memory. It’s home to over 40 businesses and a work force of over 540.

What’s exciting is the innovative use of space by local businesses within Big Pasco, from a wholesale supplier of certified organic peppermint and spearmint to the home of a new epoxy resin flooring and countertop company.

We were also recently awarded a $7.8 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to continue the upgrade of Big Pasco. Once complete, the project will not only benefit current occupants, but also encourage additional creative uses of property.

A catalyst for collaboration

Partnerships within the district are a key component of our efforts.

The port has worked closely with Connell officials and community groups to define a project to provide economic development for the northern part of our district. Creation of the North Franklin Visitors Center was approved, and ground will be broken in the spring.

Strong collaborative efforts from numerous community agencies and businesses were also integral to bring direct air flight service to Los Angeles International Airport. Recently, United Airlines announced daily, non-stop service to LA beginning March 31, which we will launch with great fanfare.

Other cooperative efforts include joining with the City of Pasco to explore a public market in Pasco, a sister-city relationship with Colima, Mexico, and Somos Pasco, a visioning process that will shape the future of Pasco for 20 years.

A catalyst into the future

The port continues to work with an eye on the future, exploring additional opportunities to drive investment, expand services, create collaborations and encourage businesses large and small.

Our strategic plan includes increasing the land within the port’s portfolio. This land could be the home to the region’s next big industry, providing jobs and an important tax base.

And while we are excited about the new Los Angeles air service, we are not standing still on efforts to attract other flight destinations to our airport. These take time to develop, so there is no time like the present to get started.

As a port, we do strive to be a catalyst, and we are pleased by what, alongside others, we have contributed to the region’s economy. More importantly, we look with anticipation toward significant achievements ahead.