Port of Columbia Seeks Replacement for District 2 Seat

The Port of Columbia Board of Commissioners is seeking interested candidates to fill the District 2 position vacated by the death of Commissioner Earle Marvin.

According to Port Executive Director Jennie Dickinson, Washington State RCW 42.12.070 states that the remaining commissioners of the Port District have 90 days to fill the vacant position with a qualified candidate.  A qualified candidate must be a registered voter living in the district with the vacancy, which in this case is District 2. (Port Commissioner Districts are the same as County Commissioner Districts.)  A map of the commissioner districts is available on the Columbia County website documents page. Anyone interested in serving from that district should submit a letter of interest and a resume to the Port no later than Friday, October 8th. A short list of relevant experiences should be included.

The two other Port Commissioners, Sean Milligan and Shawn Brown, will select a replacement from the pool of applicants for the vacant position. The person selected will serve until December 31, 2022, and may choose to stand for election in November of 2022 to serve the final year of Marvin’s 6-year term, which ends December 31, 2023.  Election for a new 6-year term for District 2 will be held in November of 2023. This is a non-partisan position.

Letters of interest and resumes should be directed to Jennie Dickinson, Port of Columbia, 1 Port Way, Dayton, WA, 99328, or to jennie@portofcolumbia.org by 5 pm Friday, October 8th . Visit www.portofcolumbia.org for more information on the Port and its properties, or call the Port at 382-2577 to schedule an appointment with the executive director to learn more about Port activities.

Small Business Start-Up Grants

The Port of Columbia has opened a new grant opportunity for start-up businesses in Columbia County. Through funding provided by Innovia, a private foundation that serves eastern Washington and northern Idaho, the Port of Columbia is offering micro-grants to start-up businesses. Grants not to exceed $5,000 will be awarded to qualifying businesses 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 will be passing 100% of the funds through to start-up businesses.

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 at https://www.portofcolumbia.org/economic-development/business-assistance/ . Applications are due September 30th.

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/ .

Working Washington 4.0

The Washington State Department of Commerce sent out a press release today announcing the new Working Washington 4.0 small business grant program. The application portal will be open for 12 days starting Monday, March 29 and closing Friday, April 9th. Applications will be handled by the Department of Commerce through an online portal. MORE INFO HERE

Landscaping & Weed Control RFPs Sought

The Port of Columbia is seeking Requests for Proposals (RFP) for professional services from qualified firms for the purpose of landscaping, irrigation maintenance & weed/pest control services at the Rockhill Industrial Park, Blue Mountain Station and other Port owned properties in Dayton, WA. It is the Port’s intent to use the information to enter into contract(s) for services for 2021. Information submitted should include a list of qualifications, proof of WA State licensing, proof of insurance, hourly labor rate, and materials mark-up.  The Port of Columbia encourages women and minority-owned businesses to apply. MORE INFO HERE

Comp Plan Updates To Be Considered

Updates and administrative changes to the Port of Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan will be considered for adoption at the Port of Columbia regular commission meeting on February 10, 2021 at 3:30 pm.  A public hearing will be held to take comments on the document, which can be viewed here.  Proposed changes are tracked in red. Please contact the Port office at 509-382-2577 or jennie@portofcolumbia.org if you have questions about the plan. Instructions for joining the meeting and the public hearing via Zoom will be posted with the meeting agenda on Monday, February 8.

New Working Washington 3.0 Grant Program Open

The Washington State Department of Commerce has opened a new round of small business grant funding aimed at providing assistance to businesses hurt by the most recent COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of being facilitated by local agencies this time (Port), the state will be handling the application process.  To review eligibility information and apply, visit the Working Washington 3.0 webpage. Port staff is ready to answer questions and provided help as needed.  Please call 509-382-2577 or email jennie@portofcolumbia.org for assistance.

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.

Last Call for Grants

October 30th is the deadline to turn in applications for the Port of Columbia COVID-19 Small Business Relief fund. Has your business been financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic? Is your business in Columbia County, WA? Do you have 10 employees or less? You may be eligible for funding. visit our COVID-19 page for details, and read the press release here.

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.