Business Briefs — August 2019

Longtime restaurant family to open new eatery in Columbia Park

A longtime Kennewick restaurant soon will be serving golfers-on-the-go, as well as those who want to relax on a patio featuring river views in Columbia Park.

CG Public House and Catering will open Bite at the Landing at the Columbia Park Golf Tri-Plex in late September.

Construction of the city of Kennewick’s 2,600-square-foot Columbia River Landing facility was completed in June and will continue to host golf course operations in addition to the new eatery.

The new $1.1 million building includes a full-service kitchen and 1,200-square-foot patio.

Prior to serving patrons at its 9221 W. Clearwater Ave. location since 2006, owners Shirley and Steve Simmons operated the Country Gentleman and Wyatt’s Pancake Corral at Highway 395 and Vista Place dating back to 1979.

The new restaurant, operated by their son Kyle Simmons, offers the restaurateurs an opportunity to attract a new audience, add menu items and host more events and activities.

An application to serve local wines, beers and craft cocktails has been submitted to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

In addition to the restaurant, the rebranded golf tri-plex offers 18 holes of traditional golf on a 3-par course, foot golf and disc golf.

Pasco receives $3M grant to expand food processing

Pasco received a $3 million federal grant for water infrastructure improvements needed to serve food processing and other businesses in the region.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross made the announcement Aug. 8. The grant will be matched with $3.9 million in local funds and is expected to help create or retain 700 jobs. It will generate nearly $36 million in private investment.

The Pasco project involves building dual force mains and a pump station at Pasco’s process water use facility to increase capacity to serve the expansion and location plans of food processing and other businesses.

The grant serves a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-designated Opportunity Zone to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide.

New art installed at Columbia Center Boulevard

Commuters along Columbia Center Boulevard and Fourth Avenue might be taking a second look.

Installation of eight metal jackrabbits, each 5 feet tall, began July 20, with work provided by volunteers from LiUNA! Laborers’ Local 348.

The jackrabbits are the solution from the Kennewick Arts Commission for vacant land leftover from a disbanded homeowners association. The arts commission is funding the project and maintenance. Jason Watson designed the jackrabbits, which were fabricated at a local machine shop.

Digital Crush marketing summit set for Oct. 11

Digital Crush, an annual digital marketing summit, is set for Oct. 11 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

The one-day conference is designed to bring together and educate digital marketers and small business owners.

Tickets are $199 for general admission and $224 to include VIP networking.

For tickets and list of speakers, go to

Applicants’ salary history off limits to employers

Recent changes to Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act will prevent employers from asking for wage or salary history of job applicants, the state Department of Labor & Industries announced recently.

The law also would make it illegal to request that information from previous employers. Additionally, current employees who are offered a transfer, new position or promotion must be shown the new job’s wage scale or salary range if they request it.

“For too long, wage disparities have continued between individuals doing equal work,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a release. “The protections established in this law are the next step toward finally leveling the playing field.”

Washington joins California and Oregon in passing the restrictions.

Benton County District Court office open for lunch

The Benton County District Court office began remaining open during the noon hour on Aug. 5.

The change will allow people to conduct court business during their lunch break.

The district court office—at 7122 W. Okanogan Place, Bldg. A in Kennewick —is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New nonprofit forms to focus on mental health

A new nonprofit dedicated to raising money to help meet the unmet needs of mental health in the community has formed. Called Heads Up Tri-Cities, it was founded in mid-June by a group of women focused on mental health and the need to make a difference.

Formed by former Lourdes Foundation board members as well as former staff, Heads Up Tri-Cities aims to support mental health needs and will develop creative solutions through collaboration.

Fundraising efforts, as well as educational outreach, will be the organization’s focus, said Wendee Bodnar, the group’s president.

Two organizations the group will be collaborating with on its first of many fundraisers are Lutheran Community Services and Emmaus Counseling Services.

Kicking off a season of fundraising, Heads Up Tri-Cities is planning a tailgate fundraiser Sept. 29 at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick. Patty Wagon Taps will deliver beverages and several food trucks will serve up food. This 21-and-over event has limited seating. Table sponsorships to seat eight are $500 and available by calling Bodnar at 509-531-2401.

WSU fundraising hits $145.8M in fundraising

Washington State University has raised $145.8 million in fiscal year 2019, the third-highest total in WSU history and the most raised without the aid of a fundraising campaign.

The money came from nearly 49,000 donors. Among the programs expected to benefit are WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the WSU Honors College.

Reading Foundation hires new executive director

The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia has hired a new executive director.

Elizabeth Barnes will begin her new role Aug. 30.

Barnes previously served as the elementary and early childhood principal at Colegio Interamericano in Guatemala.

She has a bachelor’s in bilingual elementary education from Washington State University and a master’s in education in educational leadership from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

Barnes’ focus for the past 13 years has been working with nonprofits to assist in providing high quality education globally for a range of socio-demographics.

“With Elizabeth’s extensive knowledge and experience in bilingual education and her previous work with marginalized children around the world, we are confident that she will make a lasting impact on the Mid-Columbia community,” said Steve Palm, president of the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, in a news release.

Barnes succeeds Sara Schwan, who led the organization for more than five years.

Tech summit scheduled for Sept. 11 in Richland

The second annual Tri-Cities Tech Summit is scheduled for Sept. 12 at the Uptown Theatre in Richland. A social for networking is Sept. 11.

Keynote speaker for the event is Paul Jarrett, co-founder and CEO of Bulu Box.

The summit coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Manhattan Project, and part of the theme will highlight technology that came from the project and its impact on the Tri-Cities.

The summit is organized by Teknologize, Wildland and the Tri-Cities Research District.

Early-bird tickets are $39, or $54, which includes a networking social, and can be purchased at

Premera Blue Cross will pay $10M for data breach

Premera Blue Cross will pay $10 million for failing to secure sensitive consumer data, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced July 11.

Premera will pay $5.4 million to Washington and another $4.6 million to a coalition of 29 state attorneys general that joined Ferguson’s investigation.

Premera, the largest health insurance company in the Pacific Northwest, also was accused of misleading consumers about the breach that gave a hacker access to patient information for 10.4 million people over nearly a year in 2014-15.

The company had been warned for years prior to the breach that it had inadequate security. After the breach became public, Premera’s call center agents told consumers there was no reason to believe their information had been accessed.

Public comments sought for Hanford projects

Mission Support Alliance is seeking public comment on a pair of projects and also extending the comment period for a third.

A public meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive, on plans to connect waste transfer lines at Hanford. The comment period runs through Sept. 16, and comments can be left at

There is a second comment period for a proposed operating permit for the Low-Activity Waste and Effluent Management facilities. Comments will be accepted through Aug. 30 and can be left at

The public comment opportunity has been extended to Aug. 17 on an engineering evaluation/cost analysis evaluation for Hanford’s Plutonium Uranium Extraction complex. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to P.O. Box 550, H5-20, Richland, WA 99352.

Immigrant artwork exhibit on display in Kennewick

The Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition’s “Celebrating Our Immigrant Community through the Arts” exhibit runs Sept. 7-15.

The artwork will be on display at Monarcha Winery, 421 Columbia Drive, Kennewick.

The exhibit opening kicks off from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 7, when visitors may browse the art for free and talk to the artists.

Martin Porras will sing and play his guitar, and Brandon Sullivan will read a poem he wrote for the event. Monarcha will sell wine by the glass, and you can buy non-alcoholic beverages and food from Fast and Curryous and El Taco Stop food trucks. All ages are welcome.

Check the coalition’s Facebook page to see whose art will be in the show.

In addition to the immigrant artists’ work, the coalition will display environmental portraits of Tri-City immigrants by local photographer and graphic designer Madison Rosenbaum.

The art on display will be for sale.

Jacobs and Rhodes provides free HVAC for select families

Jacobs and Rhodes Heating and Air Conditioning of Kennewick is taking part in a program to deliver heating and cooling equipment to deserving families for free.

Lennox’s Feel The Love program provides heating, ventilation or air conditioning equipment for free to local dealers across the country, who then donate installation materials and labor.

In 2018, the program assisted homeowners from 19 states and five Canadian provinces by donating and installing more than 165 furnaces in recipients’ homes.

The deadline for nominations is Aug. 31, and installations will be Oct. 5-6. Nominees are selected in part on community involvement, military service and financial hardship. For information or to nominate a family, go to

BIAW sues governor, state over building legislation

The Building Industry Association of Washington filed suit against Gov. Jay Inslee, the state of Washington and the Department of Fish and Wildlife over legislation that created new fines for builders.

The suit, announced July 16, is over House Bill 1579, which implements recommendations from the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force.

The BIAW contends the governor acted unconstitutionally when he vetoed a subsection of the bill. It maintains he can only veto an entire section, not just a portion of it.

The suit also claims the Legislature overstepped by including a provision in the bill that was not a recommendation of the task force.

Richland receives $4M in public works loans

The city of Richland will receive $4 million in loans from the state Public Works Board for improvements to the Horn Rapids landfill.

The Richland project was one of 30 from across the state included among $85 million in loans for pre-construction and construction activities. More than $248 million had been requested for 74 projects in the 2019 funding cycle.

Connell was awarded $1.2 million for sewer work, and the Basin City Water District $495,000 for water meters.

Charming Charlie stores closing after bankruptcy

Charming Charlie women’s apparel and fashion accessories stores are closing nationwide, including the one in the Columbia Center mall, after the company declared bankruptcy July 11.

Sales began July 13 in the company’s 261 stores.

The store-closing sales are being conducted by Hilco Merchant Resources and SB360 Capital Partners.

BlankSpace event venue closing Sept. 2

BlankSpace, a business designed to be an event venue and creative hub in the Southridge area of Kennewick, will close its doors Sept. 2, three years after it opened.

Owner Olivia Berg made the announcement on Facebook, citing long hours, time with her family and time for other businesses as reasons for the closure.

“While it is bittersweet to say farewell, we leave with full hearts,” Berg posted.

The business opened in September 2016 with a goal to “encourage creativity, local industry, charity and sustainability in a way that is relevant to consumers.”

During that time, the venue at 5453 Ridgeline Drive hosted more than 600 events, from art shows to baby showers, weddings to retirement parties.

Little Caesar’s coming to Kennewick strip mall

Remodeling work at a Kennewick strip mall on Gage Boulevard is underway to welcome a Little Caesar’s pizza restaurant.

The nationwide franchise will be at 8530 W. Gage Blvd., sharing the strip mall with The Local, Graze, Edible Arrangements and Noodle Thyme.

The $650,000 in improvements include remodeling, plumbing and mechanical work.

Contractors are Buehner Construction of Salt Lake City, Silverline Electric of Kennewick and Jacobs and Rhodes Heating and Air Conditioning of Kennewick.

Homebuilding adds $8.4 billion to economy

New home construction added $8.4 billion to Washington’s economy in 2018, according to a report from the National Home Builders Association.

The report, commissioned by the Building Industry Association of Washington, examined the impact of construction of 24,000 single-family homes built in the state in 2018.

It examined the direct and indirect impacts of the construction industry itself, employee income within the industry, and money from construction activity spent within the state.

The $8.4 billion is employee income from 103,315 jobs created. That is in addition to $2.2 billion in state and local taxes. The report also shows another $4 billion in “ripple effect”—spending of income and taxes—and $1.6 billion from occupancy.

Benton County jail gets $3.7M in improvements

Benton County is spending nearly $3.7 million to improve plumbing issues at the jail.

The project will replace failing plumbing in the older section of the jail, which sits directly above the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

County officials said the old boilers will be replaced and work will be done in the restrooms to eliminate water intrusion. The recreation yard above the office area will receive surface treatment to eliminate water intrusion as well.

Banlin Construction and BNB Mechanical are the contractors for the project at 7122 W. Okanogan Place.

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