The Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) has approved a $5.8 million package of grants and loans that will go to boost business growth and create new jobs across the state.
The package includes $2 million for the Port of Klickitat, which will be used for expanding to additional sites and building infrastructure at the Port's industrial park at Bingen Point.
"It's all for infrastructure improvements -- we're creating buildable parcels served with utilities and roads," said Marc Thornsbury, executive director of the Port of Klickitat. "It's not very sexy. We don't get to have an artist's rendition with nice landscaping, so it's not quite as exciting as a new building. But it's pretty critical. No one is going to build here unless we do that work. You need to have water and sewer to the sites. If you don't have those, you can't even get out of the gate."
Thornsbury said about 27 acres of land will see the infrastructure work -- leveling parcels, putting in roads, and adding utilities. The parcels where the work will be completed is west and north of the existing building complex at Bingen Point.
Improvements at the Port of Klickitat could pave the way for further growth of Insitu, Inc., and Innovative Composites Engineering, Inc., two high-tech businesses headquartered at Bingen Point.
According to CERB officials, the public facility improvements will support maintaining an existing 232 full-time jobs, and provide for the creation of an additional 168 jobs by Insitu and ICE.
"This financing will support vital projects in communities across Washington," explained Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Infrastructure investments create family-wage jobs and help strengthen the local economy in each of these counties."
Thornsbury pointed out that the impact of the investment is likely to take some time to materialize.
"It's a big deal for us, and we'll see the results a few years down the road," he said. "It's a good long-term project to be involved with, because right now there is not a lot of buildable property here."
Thornsbury said that $500,000 of the total is a grant, and the other $1.5 million is a loan.
The CERB funds needs to be matched by $800,000 in local funds. The local match has already been covered, with $500,000 coming from Klickitat County and the other $300,000 from the Port of Klickitat.
Thornsbury said he was happy that the Port would now be able to move ahead with vital infrastructure enhancements.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the long term, and it gives us an opportunity we don't have right now," he said. "Even if the perfect project walked through the door tomorrow, right now there would be no place to put them. We really have to have these improvements. It's a great kind of foundation and building block."