WASHINGTON: The Port of Chehalis has been awarded a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help develop a rail-served industrial park. Last year, the port learned it would likely be receiving the grant, but after the construction costs increased, the port asked the EDA for more money. The grant total increased from $2,577,800 to $2,798,648, the largest allotment of grant money the port has ever received. The money will be used for a $3.5 million project at its Maurin Road Industrial Site 1, which includes the construction of two building pads that would be able to support a 136,000-square-foot-building and a 120,000-square-foot building. “It’s a big shot in the arm for our construction activities,” Randy Mueller, CEO of the port, said of the grant allocation. “We are a small agency with a small budget and anytime we can leverage a few hundred thousand dollars of port money, or 20 percent match to 80 percent federal money, that really helps us move things along.” The increase in grant funding will bring the port’s match obligation back down to 20 percent.
Originally, the project was estimated to cost $3,222,300, but the project cost rose to $3.5 million. This would be the port’s largest infrastructure project it has ever undertaken. “The president and his administration have highlighted the desperate need to invest in infrastructure developments in communities across the United States,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a press release. “The new Port of Chehalis’ industrial park will help attract new businesses to the community and provide further opportunities to the thousands of Americans living in the region.” The project is expected to create 100 new jobs and generate $40 million in private investment.
Mueller said the port has obtained all the required permits for the project. The preliminary work to the site, such as design and grading plans, have also been completed. Although the property has generated interest in the past, there are no buyers lined up. The site is large enough to accommodate one very large user or multiple medium sized users, Mueller said. Due to the timing of the grant, the construction work required at the site will be pushed out of this summer’s construction season, probably to next year. The port will continue to get as much non-weather dependent work done as possible, Mueller said. The grant will support site work at the industrial park, which sits along the Interstate 5 corridor. The completion of the project is expected to attract new firms to the region, according to the press release, which will in turn create more employment opportunities for the local workforce.