U.S. Department of Commerce awards $3 million grant to Port of Camas-Washougal

The Economic Development Administration grant is expected to help create 130 jobs and spur $10.6 million in private investment

Courtesy of Port of Camas-Washougal

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to the Port of Camas-Washougal to make critical infrastructure improvements needed to establish an industrial workspace for use by local manufacturing firms.

The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Job Acts Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $2.5 million in local funds and $1.4 million in state funds, and is expected to create 130 jobs and spur $10.6 million in private investment.

Kim Noah, Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Camas-Washougal, said that over the last six years the Port has been 100% occupied and has doubled its industrial space from 170,000 square feet to more than 340,000 square feet. Noah said this increase took the form of four newly constructed industrial buildings (145,000 square feet) and the purchase of two industrial buildings (41,344 square feet).

“Demand for industrial space has been increasing over the last three years,” Noah said. “In the last year, there has been over 120,000 square feet of industrial space requests from over 30 businesses with the primary interest of 3,000 to 10,000 square feet of space. The upcoming construction of the 50,000-square-foot building will be funded by EDA ($3 million), Community Economic Revitalization Board ($1,440,873) and Port reserves. The building will be devisable into fifteen 3,300-square-foot bays.”

“The Port is looking forward to continuing to expand its industrial space diversity with these new available spaces, and create 130 jobs for the local community,” Noah said.

“EDA is proud to support local efforts to improve infrastructure to spur new business growth,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, in a news release from the EDA. “EDA investments in Opportunity Zones enhance the return on investment for business interests and encourage the public/private partnerships critical to driving private investment and new jobs to cities like Washougal.”

The funding announced last week goes to one of Washington’s 139 Opportunity Zones. Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017Opportunity Zones are aim to spur economic development in economically distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Opportunity Now resources webpage. To learn more about Opportunity Zone best practices, see the recently released White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Report to President Trump.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.