Thanks, in large part, to the holistic grant that started it all, the Port of Camas-Washougal is abuzz with activity. Waterfront revitalization, tenants moving into the freshly-completed Building 17 and beginning Phase 2 of the Steigerwald Commerce Center project are all signs that economic recovery has visited east Clark County with fervor.
Construction of a nearly one-mile-long trail began in February and completion of the formally-titled Washougal Waterfront Park is projected for late fall. Plans show the trail tying into the Columbia River Dike Trail to the east and, eventually, fusing with the regional Gorge Towns to Trail system. The $200,000 Brownfields Integrated Planning Grant (IPG) that the port’s executive director, David Ripp, secured several years back was a catalyst to the park’s development and its surrounding 26 acres.
“We had three public meetings to develop a vision for the waterfront and learned that people want to see and touch water and enjoy the beauty of the Gorge and Mt. Hood,” said Ripp. “We knew it’d be great to connect the marina with the levy area. That’s how the park and trail became a more realistic project for us.”
According to Ripp, the port has been at 100 percent occupancy for the last three years, so it’s no surprise that Building 17 was completed in February and tenants have already taken over the 25,000-square-foot space. Located in the Steigerwald Commerce Center just west of Building 15, this new commercial building is home to Lumino Wellness, Mary Jane’s Glass Productions and Foods in Season – a gourmet fresh food supplier adding 13,500 square feet to its current 22,000 square-foot operation a stone’s throw away.
Looking ahead, Ripp shared that Phase 2 of the Steigerwald Commerce Center is essentially happening now. Construction begins this summer to extend Grant Street and open up another 50 acres of property with a goal of constructing a 50,000-square-foot building. The ultimate proposal will be driven by an EDA grant (Economic Development Administration) and a plan B is already in place for a smaller footprint, if that proves necessary.
“We have right now roughly 275,000 square feet of building space,” Ripp said. “It’s exciting. It’s fun. We’re doing good things. We’re creating jobs and creating more business out here.”
One of those new businesses, Lumino Wellness, is consolidating their office and warehouse presence under one convenient roof that’s made even more so by the fact that Lumino’s managing partner, Barb Todd, will now be much closer to Foods in Season.
Todd explained, “The main reason we chose the port is we’ll be located next to my brother, John Anderson, who owns Foods in Season, and we’re getting ready to co-venture chaga mushroom products together.”
Manufacturers of natural beauty products for both pets and people, Lumino has been around since 2009, according to Todd. Currently experiencing a 20-25 percent growth year over year, Lumino will bring five full-time and seven part-time employees to the port when their build-out is complete later this month.
Some of their most popular products are spicy chaga chai – after chaga was named a superfood in 2015 by the World Food Network – and those containing food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is an excellent source of silica for hair, nails and skin and is believed to carry numerous other health benefits. Lumino sells their products to more than 4,500 stores across the country.
Speaking on the partnership with the port thus far, Todd said, “We’ve been really impressed with their professionalism and the ease of working with them. Dave Ripp out there is making this transition really smooth. They’re a great group of people to work with.”
Co-owner of Easy Rider Spirits, Bob Burrows, is currently working with the port on a lease and hopes to move in before years’ end. With fewer than a dozen employees, Burrows feels their value is more in the new energy they bring to the table and showcasing the diversity of what the business community can look like in Camas-Washougal.
According to Burrows, Easy Rider distills whiskey (bourbon in particular) for motorcycle enthusiasts and lovers of quality spirits. His business partner, Eric Folkestad, is a rider who runs Pendleton Bike Week in July and Easy Rider will be a sponsor this year. Burrows believes Easy Rider’s success will come from quality bourbon, which he describes as second to none, and branding and nostalgia behind their name.
Living in the Washougal and Camas areas respectively, these two business partners feel that the port – and the Steigerwald Commerce Center in particular – offers key features they couldn’t find elsewhere.
“We’ve talked with people who’ve dealt with ports in general and the partnership of this port with the building department, too, is pretty remarkable,” said Burrows. “Portland is so overflowing and crowded right now whereas this port is still expanding and has beautiful views with Mt. Hood and the Columbia River and the Gorge and how close we are to the airport and major freeways. People are not conditioned to think that way, but it’s very important.”