Business Briefs – November 2021

2 restaurants tie for best tacos in Pasco Taco Crawl

Trejo’s Mexican Restaurant and Super Quesadilla Gigante, both in Pasco, tied as winners in this year’s Taco Crawl, both receiving the “Best Taco in Pasco” award.

More than 8,000 tacos were consumed during the fifth annual event, which ran from Oct. 1-16.

The event was canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The tacos in Pasco are absolutely the best. Yes, the best, the best …. they are just awesome,” said Mike Gonzalez, Pasco’s economic development manager.

Trejo’s at 1833 W. Court St. won the Best Taco title in 2019. 

Super Quesadilla Gigante at 220 N. 18th Ave., #102, was a newcomer to the Taco Crawl this year.

Participants buy a booklet with coupons for tacos at 20 different taquerias and are encouraged to make tasting notes before casting a vote for their favorite.

The event is a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.

To be notified about next year’s crawl, sign up for alerts at or follow @PascoTacoCrawl on Facebook.

SBA lending tops $1 billion in Washington state, region

More than 1,700 small businesses in Washington and northern Idaho secured nearly $1.3 billion in funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Seattle District office in the federal fiscal year that ended in October.

The Seattle District office serves Washington state, excluding four counties that are part of the Portland District, and northern Idaho.

“With an SBA guarantee, many more local businesses gained access to financing that otherwise wouldn’t be attainable. We’re grateful to our local lending partners for working together with us to recover and grow the economy through the strength of small businesses. And, for making us one of the Top 10 markets in the nation for SBA lending,” said Kerrie Hurd, SBA Seattle district director, in a press release.

Franklin County farm fined for illegal water use

The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a $304,000 penalty to Frank Tiegs LLC for illegally irrigating 250 acres of crops in Franklin County in 2021.

As part of its investigation, Ecology found Tiegs LLC tilled the unfarmed land and planted a crop in early 2021 and began irrigating from McNary Pool in March. McNary Pool is part of the Snake River where it meets the main stem of the Columbia River.

During the summer, Ecology inquired about the water use. Tiegs representatives acknowledged the irrigation error and have committed to find a legal water supply for the 2022 irrigation season. The illegal water use threatened stream flows on the Columbia and Snake rivers – critical rivers for salmon and steelhead, the state said. This year was one of the driest and warmest on record for Washington with stream flows and fish passage already compromised, the state said.

Since 1993, the Columbia River has been managed under a rule that requires mitigation for new surface water withdrawals. The mitigation must replace or offset the water used under a new right. Ecology has spent significant time and money to develop programs to make water available to offset new water use for cities, industries and irrigated farms.

The penalty can be appealed to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Hanford contractor sponsors Visit Tri-Cities campaign

Central Plateau Cleanup Co. has agreed to sponsor a Visit Tri-Cities initiative to highlight the area’s quality of life.

The “Life is good in the Tri-Cities!” campaign will focus on marketing the Tri-Cities to Tri-Citians and aims to promote local tourism businesses.

“Who do we turn to when asking for recommendations? Friends and family. Deepening the community’s appreciation for the place we call home creates brand ambassadors for the Tri-Cities,” said Michael Novakovich, president and CEO of the tourism promotion agency.

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Enrollment opens for Washington tuition program

Washington state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program, known as GET, is open for new enrollments through May 31, 2022.

The program allows families to save for future college costs with units priced at $114.01, the lowest since the 2018-19 year.

Unit prices match the payout value, which is based on the cost of tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s highest-priced public university, which is currently the University of Washington Tacoma.

As a 529 prepaid tuition plan, the state guarantees that a family’s GET savings will keep pace with in-state college tuition and fees. The program, started in 1998, has distributed more than $1.3 billion to more than 60,000 students attending college in all 50 states and 15 countries.

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Celebrated Benton City winemaker dies at age 63

Stacie Hamilton, a Benton City resident who established the celebrated Hamilton Cellars with her husband Russ Hamilton in 2006, died Oct. 8 in Richland. She was 63.

Hamilton was a Washington State University alumna who, prior to becoming a winemaker, worked as a Tri-City accountant and then financial advisor, establishing Hamilton Fisher Wealth Management with her brother, Brad Fisher.

Hamilton Cellars is an influential member of the Red Mountain wine community, where she was remembered for lending her expertise and support to her fellow businessowners. Born in Richland, she graduated from Kamiakin High School and served in the Army before college.

Her family suggests donations in her memory to the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business Scholarship Fund and/or the Wine Science Center Excellence Fund.

Services were held Oct. 27 at Einan’s at Sunset in Richland.

WSU Tri-Cities partners with BMCC

Washington State University Tri-Cities is making easier for students at Hermiston’s Blue Mountain Community College to transfer to the Richland campus.

Bridges, its new direct student transfer programs, will save students on the cost of admissions application fees and improves the pathway to careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Students work with academic advisors at both schools to develop a complete program of study, which ensures the students know what classes then need to take and what will directly transfer.

“We are excited to partner with Blue Mountain Community College to create access to a baccalaureate degree for more students,” said Sandra Haynes, chancellor, WSU Tri-Cities.

To be eligible, students must have taken less than 45 quarter credits at BMCC and maintain a 2.5 or higher grade-point average. They must in the process of completing one of the qualifying degrees.

The application deadline for fall 2022 is Jan. 31.

Fill Christmas stockings for kids living in foster care

Heads UP Tri-Cities is recruiting supporters to fill Christmas stockings for children living with foster families in the community.

The need is greater than ever, according to Heads UP Tri-Cities.

Participants can shop for children or make a direct gift to support the Foster Children Christmas Stocking Program.

To participate, send an email to and let the committee know how many children you wish to sponsor and if you have an age or gender preference.

The committee will send basic information along with a wish list. Unwrapped gifts are due by Dec. 9.

To make a monetary donation, go to or call 509-497-7175.

Running Waters Equity Fund launches in Walla Walla

Running Waters Equity Fund has launched in Walla Walla to provide financial support to projects that promote racial equity in the Blue Mountain region.

It is raising money through the Valley Giving Guide throughout November.

“The ability to have the Running Waters Equity Fund as a resource from an infrastructure perspective and not just another seat at the table is really important because it allows us to be a resource for minoritized communities and organizations,” said Rodney Outlaw, a board co-chairman.

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State attorney general visits every Rotary club in state

Attorney General Bob Ferguson spoke Nov. 8 to the Bellingham Rotary Club, the 190th club he has visited since taking office. Ferguson has now visited every Rotary club in the state, according to his office.

Ferguson started his Rotary visits in 2013 with the Auburn Rotary. Since then, he visited an average of just under two Rotaries per month, or about one every 16 days. He also made nine virtual Rotary appearances during the pandemic.

Ferguson visited Rotary clubs in 103 different Washington cities, in 31 of Washington’s 39 counties, and some clubs more than once. Altogether, Ferguson spoke to more than 8,000 Rotarians and their guests across approximately 200 club visits. The club meetings ranged in size from five to 300 attendees.

“Rotarians are some of the most civically engaged members of our communities,” Ferguson said. “Listening to these community leaders has, without a doubt, made me a better Attorney General.”

Santa is coming to Columbia Center

Santa and the Christmas crew will be available for photos at Columbia Center from Nov. 26 through Christmas Eve.

Families may choose to sit with Santa or maintain a social distance. Santa’s helpers will wear masks.

For reservations, go to and click on the “Reserve Your Spot” link for Santa Photo Time.

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