Port encompasses the history, tourism and infrastructure of Hanford during the pandemic

Despite a global pandemic that resulted in soaring construction costs and difficulties in sourcing materials in the U.S., Port of Benton has tried to make good use of 2021 and focus on its infrastructure to attract new business to central Colombia.

Diahann Howard, executive director, said tourism is a major engine of its economic mission, but the port, which serves more than 56,000 residents and has a budget of $ 11.5 million for 2021, is also working on new manufacturing , Research and technology companies attract businesses to the region.

Use STEM tourism

Howard was particularly enthusiastic about a new project.

“We committed a million dollars to build the Hanford History Project,” she said.

The Tri-Cities Research District is home to many historical assets that document how the region and its people contributed during World War II, Howard said. The USS Triton’s sail and command tower in Port of Benton, located in a park to the north of Richland, is a unique holdover from that period and commemorates the region’s involvement during the war.

A few miles west of Triton Park is the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and the headquarters of the B Reactor Tour, which is located between a local brewery and a restaurant. And east of that is the Washington State University Tri-Cities Hanford History Project, which is home to dozens of the artifacts that positioned the Tri-Cities as the home of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The port is converting part of its building across from the USS Triton Sail Park to create 20,000 square feet, where it can consolidate assets and promote the area’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) history. The building is to the west of the port administration building.

“In fact, many of the items are too big to be displayed in the Reach (museum), and this will allow them to be archived and interpreted. Those assets need a more permanent home, ”said Howard. “We’ll also have a visitor kiosk that will take you to LIGO and Reach.”

LIGO, for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is the Nobel Prize-winning laboratory network that has helped confirm gravity waves. A visitor center will open in 2022.

Howard said one of the port’s goals is to support Visit Tri-Cities’s STEM tourism initiatives at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, WSU Tri-Cities’s Hanford History Project and Triton Park to boost Mid-Columbia’s economy diversify while preserving their uniqueness history.

The center will also become the headquarters for tours of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and the B reactor.

USS Triton Submarine Sail Park in Port 3250 on Benton Blvd. North Richland has the decommissioned 23-foot submarine sail USS Triton. (Courtesy Ross James Photography)

DO country planning

Howard said the port is continuing development on the 1,341-acre site that the U.S. Department of Energy transferred to the port in 2016.

The North Horn Rapids area is being marketed to promote manufacturing, energy and other industrial developments.

It will feature industrial lots from 200 to 500 acres that are not readily available anywhere else in the Tri-Cities.

The property is north of Horn Rapids Road between Kingsgate Road and Stevens Drive.

Richland Harbor and City of Richland own adjacent portions of the property and are working together on site planning and infrastructure for the property.

In April 2017, JUB Engineers, a tri-city based consultant, drew up a master plan for the site, laid out roads and utilities to maximize the size of the lots, and looked at how the increased demand from development was affecting the water and Sanitation could affect gas and transportation in the area.

The property is used to attract businesses that need 200 to 500 acres for clean manufacturing, food processing, energy and life sciences, and more.

Mandy Wallner, marketer at Richland’s Economic Development Bureau, said the purpose is simple – to create good, living jobs in central Colombia.

Prosser, Benton City Projects

The port signed a contract with WSU Tri-Cities to house wine and culinary programs at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser to save the difficult situation in the building that was built to showcase the region’s wine industry.

The non-profit organization that Walter Clore ran was closed in 2020 citing pandemic pressure and competition from private tasting rooms.

WSU Tri-Cities has signed a one-year lease with extension options.

Howard said despite the uncertain economy, the port has continued interest in its properties. The new building in the winegrowing village in Prosser is fully let.

The port has completed construction of the 9,000 square foot building at 236 Port Ave. Completed in 2018.

Wautoma Springs and Domanico Cellars wineries and a gift shop, Sister to Sister on the Ave., have partnered with more than a dozen other wineries, a bed and breakfast, and other retail outlets to provide a walkable collection of locally owned retail outlets To attract visitors to the area.

In Benton City, the port recently sold its property at 721 Ninth St., which opened as the L&G Salon. She is negotiating the sale of 713 Ninth Street, the city’s former fire station, to a private party.

“We’re still seeing a lot of demand and interest (for commercial real estate),” said Howard. “The port of Benton has a great diversity of land and is not concentrated in one area.”

Pandemic Challenges

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges that have caused delays across the construction industry.

It can be difficult to source key materials like wood and steel. When they are available, prices have increased significantly. Howard said port staff are doing their best with the resources available to stimulate and boost the local economy and employment in the area.

“It can be a hit or a miss with the supply chain,” she said. “We thought Covid had subsided and it’s frustrating and discouraging to see things go back.”

However, the port remains focused on continuing infrastructure projects so the sites will be ready when the industry calls.

“We have invested heavily in both Richland and Prosser Airports,” said Howard.

This includes several new hangars at Prosser Airport and the completion of a new master plan for Richland Airport, which will serve as an overall guide for the commercial development of the airports over the next 15 to 20 years.

The Port of Benton recently received a 3.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration
Update of electrical, lighting and control systems at Richland Airport.
(Courtesy Ross James Photography)

Howard said the port is seeking grants to help fund the projects. The company recently secured a $ 3.2 million FAA grant to upgrade electrical, lighting and control systems at Richland Airport.

“We’re looking everywhere for grants to invest in both airports and rail transport,” she said.

At the same time, port workers make sure to look after their existing buildings and assets and stand up for the community and their business interests.

“We’ll make sure they’re ready as soon as we understand what their world looks like after Covid,” she said.

The port continues to seek to isolate the local economy from the effects of Covid while taking precautions to protect staff and visitors.

“My number one priority is my team,” said Howard. “Keeping them safe and following protocols like masking the office and thoroughly cleaning office space to make sure they’re okay.”

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