Benton County resurrects economic development grant program

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Kennewick wine village gets $2.1 million boost

Benton County handed out its first check after resurrecting a sales tax-generated economic development program: $2.1 million toward the Port of Kennewick’s urban wine village project on Columbia Drive.

It was a joint award going to the port and city of Kennewick.

The grant will be used for the second phase of the 5.4-acre $13 million Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village development for the parking lot, street work, utilities/storm drains, lights, area for food trucks and waterfront gathering space, and converting the rest of that site into “shovel ready” land for sale or lease.

Grant dollars also will go toward the riverfront development’s third phase, which includes roads, utilities, storm drains, lights to support Columbia Basin College’s future $10 million Culinary Arts Institute and a seven-acre mixed-use commercial development called The Willows.

The wine village project is estimated to create 121 new jobs, according to the port and city’s application.

Palencia Wine Co. of Walla Walla and Bartholomew Winery of Seattle will be the first tenants at Columbia Gardens. They both plan to move their winery headquarters to Kennewick and open tasting rooms facing the river and riverfront walking trail.

The county’s Rural County Capital Fund is over $10 million, fed by a sales tax collected by the county and earmarked for economic development, job creation and tax revenue in the county.

The .09 of 1 percent tax generates about $300,000 in sales tax revenue for Benton County each month. The tax sunsets in 2026.

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Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord has more than 21 years of journalism experience and has been editor of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business and Senior Times since July 2016. She spent more than 17 years at the Tri-City Herald and also worked at weekly newspapers in Prosser, Grandview and Yelm. She’s a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ William O. Douglas chapter and a board member of Warrior Sisterhood, a Tri-Cities Cancer Center support group. She and her husband have two young daughters and they live in West Richland.

View all posts by Kristina Lord