Governor to speak at 2005 Top Projects event

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire will help deliver accolades to the developers and general contractors of the biggest projects in Clark County at the Vancouver Business Journal’s Top Projects 2005.

Many factors have contributed to steady and strong growth in the construction industry in Southwest Washington, including low interest rates, an increasing population and improving consumer confidence. The money spent and jobs created are fueling the upswing of the local economy.

The health of building in Southwest Washington is reflected in the 2005 Top Projects ranking. Twenty-five of the area’s top construction projects have been compiled based on construction cost and will be recognized from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 21 at the Clark County Center for Community Health, which is one of this year’s projects nearing completion. Gregoire will highlight the event as keynote speaker.

Gregoire points to money dedicated to Southwest Washington in the recent budget signed into law and the jobs it creates. Clark County received $49 million of a $3.3 billion budget that creates 24,400 jobs for Washington workers. The budget includes $3 million for the $28.5 million Center for Community Health. In addition, local schools may receive some of the $617 million in state matching funds set-aside for K-12 school-building projects. This year’s ranking includes the construction of Covington Middle School, a $17.6 million project, Orchards Elementary, $8.8 million, and Monticello Middle School, $8.4 million.

“As our economy picks up steam, the capital budget will give it a nice push by providing construction jobs, and by positioning our education system to better accommodate students learning the skills to succeed in life,” the governor said. “More jobs and better schools will make the future better for Southwest Washington,” said Gregoire.

The capital budget also includes $20 million for Cowlitz County and $350,000 for Skamania County. Clark County will also see $244 million of the state’s $8 billion transportation budget to help fund 13 transportation projects.

“To the people of Clark County, who are worried about their jobs and their safety on our roads, I say the future just got better,” said Gregoire.

In addition to education and transportation projects, the 2005 Top Projects list includes a number of medical-related buildings, such as the $105.3 million expansion of Southwest Washington Medical Center and the new $17 million Vancouver Clinic at Salmon Creek. Retail space is going up to accommodate several national retailers, including the $5.4 million Triangle Mall project in Longview and the $6.5 million Hazel Dell Towne Center.

In all, projects included in the ranking had a combined construction cost of more than $360 million and employed about 5,200 workers.

With many previously announced large projects awaiting construction, including large subdivisions in many of the area’s smaller cities, expected expansion of the region’s ports and commercial development north along the Interstate 5 corridor, Southwest Washington is well positioned to provide employment for its residents and boost its economy.