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Business park gains traction

Over the past week, the Port of The Dalles put a key piece of its funding puzzle in place for Chenoweth Business Park construction and took an important step in discussions with a prospective large tenant.

The $500,000 state grant money comes from the Immediate Opportunity Fund provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation and will help pay for road improvements to the business park.

“This buys down the cost of the project so we don’t have to spend that extra $500,000 to get the project done,” said Andrea Klaas, port executive director. “Now we can invest this funding in some other project.”

Klaas has been working on the grant funding with Carolyn Meese, State of Oregon business development officer for the local region, and Brad DeHart, who works on regional transportation economic development in The Dalles for the transportation department.

Though completion isn’t scheduled until October, port authorities signed a nondisclosure agreement with one potential tenant this week, which Klaas said she could describe only as “a 35- to 50-person company building a new, state-of-the-art facility in The Dalles.”

The grant amounts to about 10 percent of the $5 million total cost of the project. The funding is particularly important, Klaas noted, because the port was unable to secure federal money for the project from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The transportation grant will pay for a portion of the road development extending River Trail Way through the 26-lot, 60-acre first phase of the business park.

The project had a lot of political support from state authorities, Klaas noted.

“This project was supported by the North Central Regional Solutions Team,” she said. Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) and Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles) have also been supporters of the business park.

Klaas and Meese accepted the grant Friday and thanked supporters at a meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission in Bend.

Extension of road improvements is the final requirement remaining for the Chenoweth Business Park to meet requirements to become a state-certified industrial site. The certification will mean the business park is shovel-ready for development, according to a letter of support from Tim McCabe, director of the Oregon Business Development Department.

“The park has been identified as the top new, large industrial site in the Columbia Gorge based on size, accessibility, amount that needs to be accomplished to be ready to certify, with partners (Port of The Dalles and City of The Dalles) that are willing and able to complete the certification process and then market the site,” McCabe wrote. “Workforce is available for this site from the surrounding region and the opportunity to provide quality jobs on the east side of the region is important.”

The property now owned by Google was the port’s first state-certified site.

The port will provide the rest of the estimated $2.7 million required to complete transportation improvements.

Klaas said the port has been successful in working with the state on similar projects.

“We always ask for the last dollar,” she said. “We use the money the way we said we would. And we’ve been able to show a good return to the state.”

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