Small Business Start-up Grants Still Available

The Port of Columbia has still has funds remaining for start-up business grants in Columbia County. Through funding provided by Innovia, a private foundation that serves eastern Washington and northern Idaho, the Port of Columbia offered a micro-grant program to start-up businesses in 2021. Two businesses were awarded grants of $5,000 each – Starbuck Lodge and Annie’s Attic. Grants are not to exceed $5,000 and will be awarded to a qualifying business upon review and recommendation by a local committee.

Qualifications for applying include, but are not limited to:

  • Business Plan
  • Business License
  • Ability to have a business location physically secured, in Columbia County, within 30 days of the grant award
  • Copies of estimates of planned expenditures or invoices of expenses incurred
  • Must be a business that has not yet started operating or has not been in operation more than 3 months
  • Has not received any previous grants from the Port of Columbia

The Port received a $15,000 award from Innovia for the program and has already awarded $10,000. There is $5,000 remaining in the grant fund.

In 2020, the Port offered a similar program with funds received from Innovia. That program assisted in the location of two new businesses in downtown Dayton – Main Street Marketplace and Table Rock Meat Co.

Grant information and an application form can be found on the Port’s website click here.

Annual CEDS Planning Meeting December 7th

The Port’s annual Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) meeting will be held Tuesday, December 7th from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm via Zoom. Current economic information will be shared, reports on the 3 top-voted projects from the previous year will be given, and the project list will be reviewed and updated. Attendees will have a chance to vote on the projects they think should be given priority for 2022. Anyone is welcome to join. Click on the link to join the Zoom meeting: http://bit.ly/PortZoom

Notice of Preliminary Budget and Public Hearing

Notice is hereby given that the Preliminary Budget for the Port of Columbia for 2022 has been prepared and is on file at the Port Main Office at 1 Port Way, Dayton, WA.  The budget can also be viewed on the Port’s website at www.portofcolumbia.org/port-info/policies-plans-budget/.  Any taxpayer may obtain a hard copy of said budget at the Port office during regular business hours.  A public hearing on the budget will be held November 10, 2021 at 3:30 pm during the Port of Columbia Board of Commissioners regular meeting via Zoom. The Zoom meeting link is http://bit.ly/PortZoom and can also be found on the homepage of our website at www.portofcolumbia.org.
Dated at Dayton, Columbia County, Washington, on the 27th day of October and the 3rd day of November, 2021.

Click here to download the budget hearing notice Oct 2021

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/ .

2021 Budget Hearing Set

The Port of Columbia Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday, November 10th at 3:30 pm to hear comments on the proposed 2021 budget, which can be viewed here. The meeting will take place via Zoom. Instructions for joining the meeting are on the agenda above.

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.