Port Seeks Proposals for Comp Plan Update

Notice is hereby given that the Port of Columbia is seeking proposals from qualified firms to assist the 3-member Port Commission in the process of updating the Port of Columbia Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements, commonly known as the Comprehensive Plan in accordance with RCW 53.20.

Proposals received will be evaluated based on the criteria provided in the RFP and subsequent discussions with staff and commissioners in order to find the best candidate to assist our small port district with this important process.

A full Request for Proposals can be found on the Port’s website at https://www.portofcolumbia.org/doing-work-for-the-port/requests-for-quotes-proposals-qualifications/ . Proposals will be received at the Port office via email to jennie@portofcolumbia.org no later than 3 pm Thursday, October 7, 2022.

Working Washington 5.0 Grant Program Opens August 17

The Washington State Department of Commerce, working in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) will open applications for Working Washington Grants: Round 5 and Convention Center Grant Programs. Commerce will post information and links to the application portals at commercegrants.com.

Eligible for-profit and non-profit businesses, including tribal member-owned business operating on a reservation with a license issued by a federally recognized tribe in Washington state, may apply. Award amounts will vary and are subject to review and adjustment pending application volume, reported losses, and take into account previous Working Washington grant awards received from Commerce or affiliated partners.

General Timeline:

  • August 17 – September 9: Application portal will remain open for 24 days
  • Mid – Late September: Review of applications
  • Early October: Commerce will notify grantees and disburse funding

Visit the grant website here for more information.

Port of Columbia Awarded $2 Million Broadband Infrastructure Grant

DAYTON, WA – Port of Columbia staff, along with private partner Columbia iConnect, made a presentation to the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) on Thursday, July 14th in Olympia and left with a $2 million award.

Acceptance of the $2 million grant is contingent upon the community providing $500,000 in matching funds. The Port applied for and received $20,000 from the Sherwood Trust, $15,000 from the Warren Community Fund, and $13,500 from the Dayton Columbia County Fund to use as matching funds, and has pledged $20,000 from their 2021 budget for the project as well.

“This is a rare opportunity to bring hard-earned federal tax dollars back to our community for the benefit of our citizens,” stated Jennie Dickinson, Port of Columbia executive director. “A relatively small local contribution by the Port and our community partners can benefit thousands of residents.”

Requests will be made to Columbia County and the City of Dayton for the remainder of the funds required.

The Port has been working with community partners, including the City of Dayton, Columbia County, and private sector internet service providers since 2019 to address inadequate and unreliable internet service in our community. Even before the pandemic, Port staff heard concerns from many businesses and community members about how limiting our current internet service was. COVID-19 only exacerbated the issue. It became clear that in order for the community to remain attractive to residents and businesses, to meet current health care needs, and to provide adequate opportunities for education, improvements needed to be made.

 

In February 2020, the Port completed a feasibility study for a dark fiber network in the City of Dayton and some adjacent, more dense areas in the county. The study showed that it is financially feasible to operate a fiber optic network under the public/private partnership model in our community. The project would provide access to broadband for any of the 1,278 businesses and residents in the project area that are interested in fiber service.

The Port will not be providing internet service to customers. The system will be what’s called an open access network, meaning any interested internet service provider that is willing to invest in equipment can offer fiber internet service to the premises by leasing strands of the Port’s fiber infrastructure. Basically, the Port builds the “road,” and the private sector “drives” on it to deliver service to customers.

The Port provided information and an invitation to partner to all existing service providers prior to applying for funds, and have signed contingency agreements with 3 companies – Columbia iConnect, PocketiNet, and Emerge by Inland Cellular – to lease fiber from the Port and deliver internet service to their existing and to new customers.

The Port of Garfield recently completed the same type of fiber infrastructure in Pomeroy, and customers there are receiving 1 gigabyte of service for $70 per month through the private internet providers. 50% of the premises in their project area are using this new service.

More information on the project can be found on the Port’s website at https://www.portofcolumbia.org/economic-development/broadband/ .

COVID-19 BUSINESS RESOURCES

Visit the Port’s COVID-19 page for business resources, including information on grants for Columbia County businesses.  Several grant funds have been combined to enable the broadest business support possible. This Business Resources document provides information for businesses trying to sort their way through the Coronavirus crisis.  New information includes guidance on forgivable expenses for your PPP loan as well as an Excel spreadsheet you can use to track PPP expenses.