By Tiffany Sukola, March 28, 2014, Columbia Basin Herald
Port of Othello officials are hoping to move dirt on a 42-acre addition to their industrial park in Bruce by the end of this year.
The Bruce industrial area is located about five miles east of Othello and currently houses about 33 businesses. And while companies continue to show interest in the land out there, the port is currently out of leasable lots, port executive director Doyle Palmer said.
“The area there has sold out, we have no more available lots,” he said.
To remedy that, the port recently purchased 42 more acres out there. The plan is to create about 14 more shovel-ready lots, he said.
“We will put in all the roadways, water and power, everything needed for a business to come in and build what they need,” Palmer commented. “There will also be a rail spur in the middle of it.”
The rail spur will alleviate rail back-ups and delays to the Moses Lake and Quincy areas.
However, an economic feasibility study must be done before construction can take place. One of the things the feasibility study will do is put a price tag on the development project, he said.
The state Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) recently gave the Port of Othello a $37,500 grant to fund the feasibility study. Palmer said the port is also putting up $12,500 for the study.
CERB also gave a chunk of funding to Chelan County, according to a state Department of Commerce news release.
Since the early 1980s, CERB has committed more than $168 million to local jurisdictions across the state. CERB helps create private sector jobs in partnership with local governments by financing and encouraging new business development and expansion.
Commerce Director Brian Bonlender said the Port of Othello’s development plan will, “pave the way for expansion in their thriving manufacturing and food processing sectors.”
Palmer said a mix of ag-related companies, including fertilizers and seed companies, make up the current Bruce industrial area. However, the new lots would be a good fit for other industries as well, he said.
“We would hope to get a larger manufacturing plant out there, or if local truckers need a space for a shop that they don’t have now,” Palmer said. “We’re just adding more space to that area because there is an interest in it.”
He said the port needs to be ready in case a company expresses serious interest in a parcel.
“When a business comes in to an area, they don’t want to wait a year, they want to come in and start doing things,” Palmer said. “We saw some interest and it’s time to get this done, that’s why we’re going to turn the 42 acres and convert it to an industrial park so when the opportunity presents itself we have it ready.”
Palmer said the port has 30 days to secure a firm to carry out the study, and then they have 90 days to complete it. The port will report back to CERB in Olympia as soon as it’s complete, he said.
“We will present the findings and if Commerce agrees it needs to be done and agrees it will promote business and jobs in the area, they’ll probably give us a grant to go ahead with the project,” Palmer said. “If everything goes well, we hope to start turning dirt Nov. 1.”
The port has been planning for this expansion, and is prepared to match grant funds if Commerce decides to help fund construction, he said.
Palmer said the port is eager to provide more opportunities for businesses to locate in Othello.
“We’re looking forward to getting businesses out there and adding more jobs,” he said. “Every job we get is good for Othello, and we’d like to provide more jobs.”