Business Briefs – May 2022

­Hanford lab manager retires, successor named

Don Hardy, manager for the Hanford contractor overseeing laboratory services, has retired after 37 years working on the site.

Hardy was succeeded at Hanford Laboratory Management and Integration by Ray Geimer, who most recently served as project manager for the 100K Closure Operations for another Hanford contractor, Central Plateau Cleanup Co.

Hardy joined the Hanford cleanup in 1985 at the 222-S Laboratory, which provides sampling and confirmation services. His career path took him to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX), the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP), the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility and the Tank Farms.

He departed where he started – overseeing 222-S Lab.

His successor brings nearly 40 years of working within the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management complex in nuclear operations. Geimer earned a master’s in chemical engineering from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Clarkson University.

HLMI supports the 222-S Lab in its work related to vitrification of Hanford’s radioactive and chemical tank waste. It is a joint venture of Navarro Research and Engineering Inc. and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International.

State launches free business academy for creatives

The state Department of Commerce has launched its new Creatives Academy, the third in a series of self-directed educational academies for small business owners.

Designed to teach the essential skills needed to turn a creative pursuit into a successful small business, the academy contains 11 tracks.

Lessons range from developing a business mindset and accessing capital, to finding customers, creating winning pitches and negotiating terms.

All of the training materials are free and do not require registration.

The lessons are available at The academy joins two others on the state’s small business resource site, the Entrepreneur Academy and Restart Academy. A smaller series covers Mastering Financials.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are more than 250 specific creative occupations, including artists, performers, musicians, technicians, video game designers, 3D designers and modelers, projection mapping artists and sound designers.

To ensure that the sector is appropriately resourced, the state is hiring someone to oversee development of a comprehensive strategic plan that will open new opportunities in the industry, especially in rural and underserved parts of the state.

Businesses team up to celebrate young new hires

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors and Educational Service District 123 are piloting a regional Career Signing Day for the graduating classes of 2022.

Several local companies, primarily in the trade and sales sectors, are participating in the inaugural event, identifying and subsequently hiring candidates from area high schools and other non-traditional school settings.

A celebration ceremony is set for June 16 to recognize graduating students who have successfully interviewed and accepted job offers from these employers. 

Participating businesses include: Tire Factory, Bruce Inc., Meyers Auto Tech, McCurley Integrity Dealerships, O’Brien Construction Co. Inc. and RDO Equipment.

If interested in participating, call Brooke Myrland, workforce & education manager, at 509-491-3242.

Bundt Cake bakery to open in Richland

Construction is underway to transform a former Thai restaurant into a cake production facility in Richland.

Nothing Bundt Cake plans $245,000 in tenant improvements at the former Mezzo Thai restaurant at 110 Gage Blvd., Suite 200.

A June opening is planned.

The new bakery is part of a Las Vegas-based franchise with more than 410 bakeries across the U.S., including eight in Washington, according to its website. The closest one to the Tri-Cities is in Spokane.

The bakery offers decorated and frosted Bundt cakes in a variety of sizes.

A wide selection of cakes, including a gluten-free option and a rotating feature flavor, will be available in the bakery daily with no preorder needed.

Franchise owners are Julie Dawes and Julie Zirker. The sisters-in-law are lifelong Tri-Citians.

Washington state burger chain icon dies at age 78

 Bob Kildall, founder of Lynden-based Bob’s Burgers & Brew, died April 20 of natural causes. He was 78.

The company announced his death on its Facebook page.

Kildall was raised on a farm outside Lynden, Washington, and joined a burger restaurant after serving in the military. He would buy the location, then buy and sell others during the 1970s.

He founded Bob’s Burgers & Brews in 1982 with a simple menu featuring gourmet burgers and a lounge for adult dining – a popular offering from one of his prior operations.

The company he founded is led by the second generation and includes a dozen family-owned and franchised locations.

Bob’s has locations at Southridge in Kennewick and at Queensgate in Richland.

Kildall is survived by his wife, Judy, three children and numerous grandchildren. Services were held in April in Lynden.

Richland holds hearings on two apartment projects

The Richland Hearings Examiner will hold two hearings on apartment projects in sensitive areas on June 13 in the council chambers of Richland City Hall.

The first concerns Willowbrook Place Apartments, Big Creek Land Co.’s plans for a 108-unit apartment complex on a 14-acre site west of Richland’s Claybell Park, near Broadmoor Street and John Court.

The second concerns Cedar and Sage Apartments 1 LLC’s plan for a 32-unit complex with underground parking at 470 Bradley Blvd., next to Hampton Inn Richland.

Submit written comments for both projects no later than 5 p.m. May 25 to

Army Corps updating McNary management plan

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public input on how it manages Lake Wallula, the stretch of the Columbia River behind the McNary Dam, including along the Tri-Cities.

The Walla Walla District is updating the McNary Master Plan for the first time since 1982. Public comment is being accepted through June 2.

The corps is preparing an environmental assessment to address possible environmental impacts associated with revisions to the master plan.

The plan guides how the corps manages land and serves as a high-level, strategic document that describes how it approaches recreational, natural and cultural resources. It does not address dam operations such as spill, fish passage or dam breaching.

Send written comments to or send written comments to: Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, ATTN: McNary Master Plan, 201 N. Third Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362-1876.

For information or to submit comments online, go to:

Tourism amenities coming to Mount St. Helens?

The Mount St. Helens Institute will begin planning expanded education, recreation and tourism facilities at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument after securing a 30-year operating permit from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The agreement coincides with the 42nd anniversary of the May 18, 1981, eruption of the Cascade Mountains stratovolcano.

A visitor center constructed in 1993 closed in 2007 and the site remained dormant until 2011, when the institute began offering modest youth education programs and public events.

The institute said it wants to develop the Coldwater Ridge site into a lodge an education center with cabins, campgrounds and upgraded facilities. The program could host up to 6,000 youth annually for outdoor school experiences, it said.

Hennebery Eddy Architects is working with the institute on the vision. The nonprofit institute is based in Amboy, Washington, and has an annual budget of about $1.1 million in 2020, according to its most recent 990 report to the IRS.

Its stated mission is to advance understanding and stewardship of the earth through science, education and exploration of volcanic landscapes.

To donate, go to:

Captain Gray elementary playground gets spruce up

The outdoor play area at Pasco’s Captain Gray STEM Elementary is getting a spruce-up, courtesy a partnership between the school district and local contractors.

Elite Construction + Development in partnership with A Sharp Painter, Stripe Rite and Martinez Artes beautified the basketball court with public art. The project was initiated by school staff.

The art project wrapped up in late April.

Nationwide construction employment stalls

Nationwide construction employment edged up by 2,000 jobs between March and April as contractors scrambled to find workers in an increasingly tight labor market, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government data.

Association leaders urged officials in Washington, D.C., to address both short- and long-term worker shortages with expanded permits for foreign-born workers and support for career training and education to enable more workers to acquire the skills for high-paying construction careers.

 “The pause in employment gains last month most likely signifies a shortage of qualified workers, rather than any slowdown in demand for projects,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, job openings in construction hit an all-time high at the end of March, while the industry’s unemployment rate was the lowest ever recorded for April.”

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience tumbled from 7.7% in April 2021 to 4.6% last month, the lowest April rate since the series began in 2000. The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 304,000, or 40% to 464,000, a 22-year low for April.

Total construction employment nationwide inched up by 2,000 employees to 7.6 million in April. Employment in residential construction rose by 3,800 workers, including 2,500 employed by homebuilders and multifamily general contractors and 1,300 at residential specialty trade contractors.

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