Officials at the Port of Klickitat are celebrating after the state's Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) provided some good news last week.
On May 19, Port representatives learned that CERB had approved a $1 million grant/loan package for further construction at Bingen Point.
Dianne Sherwood, executive director of the Port of Klickitat, said the money will be used to help build a 15,000 square foot building on Port land adjacent to the existing facilities at the 142-acre Bingen Point Industrial Park. Two businesses currently operating at Bingen Point -- the Insitu Group and Mountain Home Biological -- need room to expand, and the expansion will lead to more jobs.
"It's excellent news. Both companies are bringing family-wage jobs to our area and helping us with diversifying our economy," Sherwood explained. "This new project is a tremendous opportunity to allow the businesses to grow."
The Insitu Group, a tenant at Bingen Point since 1996, plans to add 30 jobs, expanding its work force from 70 workers to 100. Mountain Home Biological, a tenant since 2001, will eventually double its work force, going from the current seven to 14.
The Insitu Group designs and builds miniature, unmanned aerial vehicles with commercial and military applications. Mountain Home Biological supplies lab specimens, including live animals such as goldfish and guppies, to elementary school classrooms around the Northwest and the United States.
The new building project will cost approximately $1.4 million, and includes the cost of design, engineering, utility line extensions, parking area, road access, and landscaping.
Steve See, vice president of Mountain Home, said being able to have more room will make the business more efficient.
"It means more elbow room," See said. "We'll be able to spread out more, make us more accurate in shipping, and give us more room for our live material. It will help us consolidate our inventory."
Of the $1 million package from CERB, $525,000 will be a loan, with the remaining $475,000 an outright grant.
CERB's financial support is specifically geared to "retain existing jobs and boost new job creation." The agency finances publicly-owned economic development infrastructure to encourage new development and expansion in the state.
Members of the Port of Klickitat's Board of Commissioners were grateful for the funding help.
"Our partnership with CERB, federal, state, and county agencies have granted us opportunities to diversify our resource-based economy by allowing small businesses to grow and prosper," said Port Commissioner Wayne Vinyard. "This project builds on previously successful projects, none of which would have been possible without CERB's assistance."
According to Sherwood, the extra space still will not meet the demand for facilities at Bingen Point.
"Within the last six months, 11 companies have contacted us. I've had to turn away 82 jobs because there is not one more square foot of space," she explained. "As soon as we build space, it's filled. It's a nice problem to have, but it's a double-edge sword. We have no facilities to offer new businesses."
The Bingen Point property has about 50 acres remaining that could be developed, but further infrastructure improvements will be needed before that can happen.
"Our next hurdle is to get our water system looped," Sherwood explained.
Sherwood said the new building will go west of Building 1-A and north of Building 1-D. Building 1-D is the 25,000 square foot structure that was completed in 2004. Construction could begin by early fall of this year.