News Release: Commerce grants $485,000 for environmental reviews of eastern Washington manufacturing projects

Pend Oreille County, Spokane County, Spokane Valley and Walla Walla awarded funds for environmental analysis to support economic development at proposed manufacturing sites.

Olympia, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $485,000 in advanced planning grants to aid four proposed manufacturing projects in eastern Washington. The grants will help Pend Oreille County, Spokane County, the city of Spokane Valley and Walla Walla County move forward with environmental analysis and permitting activities associated with development in four key economic sectors: clean technology, aerospace, forest products or agriculture and food manufacturing, and heavy manufacturing.

  • Pend Oreille County $250,000 grant matched by $100,000 in county funds for activities including public outreach, environmental permit coordination, wetlands and transportation studies, cultural resource and timber lands assessments, engineering, planning, environmental baseline studies and project management. The proposed development is a $300-million facility for producing silicon from sand on the Ponderay Newsprint Company mill site. At completion -full operation – about 170 permanent full-time jobs are forecast.
  • City of Spokane Valley$114,200 grant matched by a $55,000 city investment for activities to streamline environmental permitting in the city’s northeast industrial area. A 40-acre site within an 840-acre area is proposed for a heavy manufacturing facility that includes approximately 110,000 square feet of production space, 115,000 square feet of storage, a new rail spur, parking to accommodate business operations and about 150 employees.
  • Walla Walla County $100,000 grant matched by $20,000 county investment to prepare a wastewater feasibility study for the Wallula Gap Business Park at the port of Walla Walla. Adjacent to Highway 12 and a dual access rail spur, the site already has completed archeological, geotechnical and biological reports. The study will address costs of engineering, needed right-of-way acquisition, infrastructure layout, wastewater disposal alternatives, and prioritization of improvements and planning.
  • Spokane County$20,800 grant matched by $48,200 in local funds to complete Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval process to release 40 acres of non-aeronautical airport land near Spokane international Airport for a $90.5 million capital investment project. The land will be sold to an aerospace manufacturing and distribution company, with an estimated impact to the community of 300 jobs.
  • “Washington state is blessed with a diverse economy and resources to attract and sustain businesses and good jobs. However, opportunities for growth look very different from the coast to urban Puget Sound to the Palouse and beyond,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “These strategic investments strengthen communities in eastern Washington. Strong public-private collaboration is streamlining regulatory processes and providing businesses and local governments with the tools they need to make decisions and move forward.”

    “These funds are critical to support our commitment to timely and meaningful public involvement in this opportunity to secure important new investment and jobs for our community,” said Commissioner Mike Manus, chair of the Pend Oreille County Board of Commissioners. “In particular, we look forward to reaching out to the Kalispel Tribe to develop an action plan that will ensure all of our questions about potential impacts on the environment are answered.”

    A competitive selection process yielded the four grant recipients from a pool of nine applications asking for a total of almost $1 million. The 2016 Legislature gave Commerce’s Growth Management Services program authority to award up to $500,000 to assist cities and counties east of the Cascade Mountains to advance environmental analysis and permitting activities in and around current and large future manufacturing sites and other key economic growth centers.

    Criteria used in evaluating applications included size, readiness to proceed, local funds leverage, jobs retained or created, projects of statewide significance, use of vacant or underutilized industrial sites, support from local economic development organizations and consistency with regional economic development strategies.

    Proposals that did not win funding are in the cities of Spokane, Othello, Grandview and Union Gap.
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    Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Press Office, (206) 256-6106

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