The Tri-Cities recorded a thriving tourism industry in 2017 with a continued upward trend of visitor spending, which reached $491 million, a 10.3 percent increase over the previous year. Spending was up in all categories measured – lodging, food and beverage, transportation, recreation and retail.
“Tourism continues to be a significant economic driver for hotels, restaurants and small businesses all throughout the Tri-Cities region,” said Michael Novakovich, president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities. “Whether visitors are here for business, a sporting event or a long weekend to enjoy our rivers or wine country, they are spending money at our local businesses.”
Increased visitor spending resulted in $54.3 million in local and state tourism-generated sales tax revenue.
Tourism contributes to more than 6,000 jobs to the local economy.
The 2017 statistics are provided to Visit Tri-Cities by national research firm Dean Bunyan Associates.
The city of Kennewick is partnering with Fuse, a co-working community, to create a business and community accelerator in downtown Kennewick.
A $40,000 grant from Frontier Communications’ America’s Best Communities contest is helping start the accelerator. The remaining is from accumulated interest from a previous economic development loan that was repaid in 2003.
“The grant is intended to underwrite the cost of recruiting businesses and marketing to attract entrepreneurs and young companies to a facility located in downtown Kennewick,” said Emily Estes-Cross, city of Kennewick’s parks, recreation and economic development director.
The process to get the accelerator established could take up to two years.
“The goal is to see at least 10 businesses and 18 new jobs created as a result of the accelerator,” she said.
Fuse, a social purpose corporation made of shareholders who are in the Tri-City business community, will work with the city to use the money to provide education, events, mentoring and business preparation to help business succeed and grow.
A location has not yet been determined.
Franklin County is among those included on tax credit bill proposed by Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) to stimulate rural job growth.
The proposal would give a $275 business and occupation tax credit to employers for each new qualifying job they create in struggling counties.
O’Ban is preparing a bill for the 2019 legislative session to apply the head tax credit in counties with an unemployment rate in the preceding year that exceeds the statewide rate by 25 percent. To qualify for the credit, a job would have to pay more than the county’s average wage.
Other counties included are Clallam, Cowlitz, Ferry, Grant, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Skamania, Wahkiakum and Yakima.
Benton and Franklin counties rank among the top counties in Washington receiving the greatest amount of investment in their local economies, according to a recent study by SmartAsset.
The financial technology firm analyzed business establishment growth, gross domestic product growth, new building permits and federal funding.
Benton County was No. 3 with an index raking of 50.43, behind King and Clark counties with indexes of 63.27 and 51.63, respectively. Franklin County was at No. 4, with an index ranking of 49.73.
Review the full study at smartasset.com/investing/investment-calculator#washington.
The city of Kennewick is calling all brewers to its Craft Brewery Wastewater Program.
The city has created a management guideline on how to reduce solids from a brewery’s product before it enters the wastewater system to reduce surcharges and create more profit.
For more information, contact the city’s economic development director at 509-585-4450 or email@example.com.
Major remodeling work has been completed to enable two Trios Medical Group provider practices and the Trios Sleep Center to move into a transformed space at the Trios Care Center at Vista Field in Kennewick.
The improvements at 521 N. Young St. brings specialty practices—sleep medicine, pulmonology and infectious disease—formerly housed in a leased facility into a space co-located with internal medicine providers.
The new clinic offers centralized registration and waiting areas for simpler patient navigation, as well as more efficient staffing and provider partnering opportunities, according to a Trios news release.
The Care Center at Vista Field is also home to the Trios Endoscopy Center and High Desert Surgery.
Patients have been notified of the location changes via postal mail.
The Columbia Generating Station in north Richland reconnected to the power grid after a six-day shutdown.
The nuclear facility shut down May 18 when one of the station’s transformers automatically disconnected from the transmission system after a grid disturbance. During the shutdown, crews were able to take advantage of the time to work on other plant equipment that can only be completed while down.
The station is owned and operated by Energy Northwest and is the third-largest generator in Washington.
The Reach museum will exhibit more than 200 butterflies and moths from the collection of Dr. Roderick Coler, called “Fanciful Flight: Butterflies & Moths from the Dr. Rod Coler Collection,” through November.
Coler’s collection, obtained over a period of 80 years, has grown to more than 2,000 specimens. As a young adult, he spent three years in the Air Force as a weather watcher and became interested in the outdoors.
He came to the Tri-Cities in 1958 to practice internal medicine and retired in 2007. His love of butterflies and moths has always been a big part of his life.
The Reach’s seasonal hours are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District received $3.3 million in additional funding to repair four levees damaged during flooding in 2017.
The money was provided under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 signed into law Feb. 9.
Levees included in the local district are the Waitsburg-Coppei Flood Project on the Touchet River in Walla Walla County.
A complete list of projects across the nation is at usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Budget/.
Public input is being sought on proposed changes to the Tri-Party Agreement.
The Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Ecology are seeking feedback on plans to acquire new facilities and modifications to existing facilities for storage, treatment and disposal of Hanford cesium, strontium capsules and bulk sodium.
The public comment period ends July 6. Comments may be sent to U.S. Department of Energy, Richland Operations Office, P.O. Box 550 H5-20, Richland, WA 99352 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sunset at Southridge food truck event kicks off this month in Kennewick.
The event features live music and a free kids’ activity from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Fridays of the month through August at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex, 2901 Southridge Blvd.
Food vendors will offer a $7 dinner special, which includes a free Gesa Carousel of Dreams ride, in addition to their regular menu.
Banquet tables and picnic benches are available but in limited quantities, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP.
Eligible farmers, ranchers and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency office through Aug. 17.
FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup to allow the USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill.
In return for enrolling land in the program, participants receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance.
Framatome, which has a location in Richland, has created several partnerships to enhance its services.
The company, formerly known as Areva, has joined with McAfee to increase cybersecurity in the energy industry. It will combine its cyber products and services with McAfee cybersecurity hardware, software, support and incident response services to protect and support digital assets of energy transmission, distribution and generation facilities, and the reliability of electricity production. The solution helps meet U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency and other international regulations, and North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Critical Infrastructure Protection standards.
Framatome also has signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Dominion Energy to provide steam generator services to the company’s entire nuclear fleet. The inspection and maintenance work on the fleet in Connecticut and Virginia will support the continued generation of low-carbon electricity from the steam generators.
The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Washington River Protection Solutions have once again partnered to offer grants to local small businesses through the small business incentive program.
The program is designed to strengthen and support small businesses in the Tri-Cities.
Winners will be awarded up to $2,000 each for various items to enhance their company and grow their business in the community.
The program has given 268 grants to small businesses, totaling $210,000 since its inception in 2011. Previous grants have helped businesses pay for software, website design, professional training, new signage, computers and more.
The eligibility criteria for the Small Business Incentive Program includes: the company must be an established small business and a member of the Tri-City Regional Chamber; non-members that have been in business at least 18 months may still qualify for the program upon joining the regional chamber prior to the application deadline; and the company must be organized as a for-profit business and demonstrate potential for success.
All applicants must complete the entire application and sufficiently demonstrate how the item or service will strengthen their business.
Applicant businesses must have 30 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and annual revenue less than $3,000,000.
New this year, members can apply for a grant through an online application at tricityregionalchamber.com. Printed applications also will be accepted; they can be turned into the Regional Chamber office at 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd., Ste. C in Kennewick. Applications must be in by 5 p.m. July 27 to be considered.
For questions about the program, contact the Regional Chamber at 509-736-0510 or email@example.com.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined a group of 38 other attorneys general to call on Congress to pass two bills to help reduce opioids entering the black market.
A letter was sent to the chair people and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.
The bills sponsored by Sen. Marie Cantwell (D-Washington) include SB 2456, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and SB 2440, the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education and Safety Act. They increase penalties on drug companies that fail to report suspicious transactions and maintain effective controls against their drugs entering the illicit market.
The bills would increase civil penalties from $10,000 to $100,00 per violation for negligence in reporting suspicious activity and double the fine for not keeping proper reporting systems to $500,000.
The Pasco City Council recently voted to lift a ban on personal fireworks that had been in place since 1996. The council instead adopted state standards for permitted fireworks.
“This new ordinance is a pragmatic approach to current attitudes about fireworks that balances safety and enforcement,” said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins in a statement.
The council also noted the change in landscape with previous fields becoming developed as well and limited resources for enforcement of a total ban.
State standards limit the type of fireworks sold and restricts time and location of sales of personal fireworks. For complete details on the ordinance, go to bit.ly/PascoFireworks.
Personal fireworks are banned in Kennewick city limits; Richland and West Richland allow fireworks with limitations.
A steel tower weighing 40 tons that will stand 45 feet tall recently made its way to Hanford’s vit plant, or the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
The tower that took 15 heavy-haul trailers to transport will house evaporator equipment that supports the Department of Energy to begin treatment waste through its direct-feed, low-activity waste vitrification approach.
A 3,400-item collection of books, detailing subjects from radiation biophysics to how radioactivity impacts health, recently was donated to Washington State University Tri-Cities’ library by a former professor.
The collection, worth more than $250,000, was donated by Ronald Kathren and his wife, Susan Kathren.
Ronald Kathren taught radiological and environmental sciences at WSU Tri-Cities and served as the director of the U.S. Transuranium and Uranium Registries at WSU.
He serves on the Herbert M. Parker Foundation board, a partner of WSU, which is committed to educating the public on radiological sciences. The Parker Foundation also hosts two lectures a year to provide renowned professionals of the radiological sciences an educational platform.
The Ronald and Susan Kathren Radiological and Affiliated Sciences Collection is valuable to WSU Tri-Cities as a resource, because the university has many research and professional ties to the Hanford site, in the radiological cleanup effort of the site and generally in the study of how radiation impacts health and other areas, said Karly Bailey, development coordinator for the WSU Foundation.
Ronald Kathren said he wanted to donate the collection to WSU Tri-Cities because it would serve as a research resource to students, faculty and professionals in radiological, engineering and other related industries. It also serves as a useful historical collection, he said.
“The collection contains unique materials relating to studies of radiological effects, including works by such scientific luminaries as Marie Curie, Ernest Rutherford, as well as the library of the radium dial painter studies,” he said. “As such, it will be of value to students and researchers in medicine, physics, environmental sciences and especially the Hanford History Project.”
The city of Pasco is gearing up to revamp its logo.
The current logo was created in the 1960s and the city would like an updated image to reflect the present and how Pasco has flourished.
BrandCraft marketing and design agency, along with the city, is seeking public input. Visit pasco-wa.gov/logo to complete a survey through June 20.
BrandCraft will present several concept options that will be open for public review at a meeting July 30.
For information, call 509-545-3485.
AARP Washington is offering a free workshop on identity theft in July in Kennewick.
The “Taking Charge of your Digital Identity” event is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 11 at the Three Rivers Convention Center, 7016 W. Grandridge Blvd., Kennewick.
Participants will learn how to protect their personal information and take charge of their digital identity. A variety of speakers are scheduled to talk.
Lunch is included in the free event.
Registration is required. Register at aarp.org/wa or call toll-free 877-926-8300.
Washington State University recently approved the 2019 fiscal year athletics budget.
This plan was presented to the WSU Board of Regents on June 8 by Athletic Director Pat Chun and Chief University Budget Officer Joan King.
Much of WSU’s athletics debt is connected to investments made in improved facilities over the past several years, including a $61 million football complex. During the same time, though, institutional support began decreasing as the university struggled with the national economic downturn.
The plan to balance the budger in five years relies on increasing revenue 27 percent by fiscal year 2023 while continuing to contain expenses. This approach will slow the rate of debt accumulation over the first four years, which is expected to reach a projected total of up to $85.1 million by fiscal year 2022. Plans call for the program to achieve a balanced budget by fiscal 2023 with an anticipated $200,000 surplus.
The athletics department is committed to first getting its budget balanced, then building up reserves and finally repaying central reserves.
“We are not here to make excuses,” Chun said in a news release. “We are here to move forward, take fiscal responsibility and provide a world-class student-athlete experience.”
Detailed financial information about the department and its budget strategy can be found at http://bit.ly/wsuathleticbudget.
Under a new state law, public colleges and universities with intercollegiate athletics programs that experience operating deficits at the end of any fiscal year must develop deficit-reduction plans.
The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking public comment on the “Draft Waste Incidental to Reprocessing Evaluation for Closure of Waste Management Area C (WMAC) at the Hanford Site.”
Hanford officials say the draft evaluation is an important step toward closure of the 16 single-shell tanks at Hanford’s C Tank Farm. Waste from these tanks has been successfully retrieved and closing the emptied tanks would be a significant achievement in the Hanford cleanup mission.
The comment period runs through Sept. 7. A public meeting is planned from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 18 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive.
For more information on the draft evaluation, including how to submit comments, visit hanford.gov/page.cfm/WasteManagementAreaCClosure.
Pasco School District welcomed 35 teachers, counselors and administrators from school districts and colleges across Washington from May 31 to June 1 to begin planning for implementation of a bilingual educator initiative, or BEI, which was funded by the state Legislature earlier this year.
The BEI partner school districts include Pasco, Quincy and Highline. Colleges include Columbia Basin College, Big Bend Community College, Wenatchee Valley College, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University, South Seattle College and Washington State University.
This K-20 consortium was awarded $160,000 for the BEI initiative.
“Pasco is shovel ready to maximize this powerful initiative. It will help us identify youth early, provide the support to get them to college and, ultimately, get them back in our classrooms as teachers and counselors. We will reap significant benefits if it can be sustained and funded by the Legislature going forward,” said Michelle Whitney, Pasco School District superintendent, in a news release.
Research shows that such programs are most effective in helping students learn a second language and in reducing the academic achievement gap.
Recent data shows that the state of Washington has been heavily impacted by immigrant students, many of whom are enrolled in the state’s Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program. As such, the supply of bilingual teachers and counselors has lagged behind significantly.
In 2017, 11 percent of students in the program received dual-language instruction, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The most instruction students receive is through a method known as English as a second language, considered the least effective instructional model for non-English speakers. Also, nearly 50 percent of educators hired in the transitional program in 2017 were instructional aides, not trained teachers, according to a news release.
The Richland City Council is accepting applications from those interested in serving on its Richland Public Facilities District Board.
For both positions No. 1 and No. 2, an applicant must submit an application, résumé and letter of recommendation from a local organization. The term of the appointment, for both positions, is until July 15, 2022.
Details are available on the city’s website at ci.richland.wa.us by clicking on Government, Advisory Boards and Commissions, or by calling the city at 509-942-7388.
The application period has been extended to June 18.
AARP is accepting nominations for its 2018 Washington Andrus Award for Community Service, which honors Washingtonians 50 years and older.
The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding people making a difference in their communities in ways that advance AARP’s mission, vision and a commitment to volunteer service.
Nominations will be evaluated by a combination of AARP Washington staff and volunteers.
In addition to receiving the award, AARP Washington will donate $2,000 to an approved and registered charity or nonprofit of the winner’s choice. The award recipient will be announced in early fall.
Nominees must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Couples or partners who perform service together are eligible; however, teams are not eligible. This is not a posthumous award.
Applications will be accepted through Aug. 10.
Last year, AARP recognized 51 individuals and couples from around the country.
Mid-Columbia Libraries is offering a free way to learn more than 80 languages, from Spanish to French, and Uzbek to Swahili, with self-directed lessons, live teachers, movies, music and more.
The library system is offering library card holders free access to Pronunciator, where patrons can learn online, or get the app for learning on their mobile devices.
Pronunciator features access to thousands of language courses for all ages and skill levels; travel prep courses; English as a second language courses for 51 languages; and more.
Library users preparing for U.S. citizenship can study for the civics, reading and writing portions of the naturalization test with Procitizen, available on computers or mobile devices. The free service offers users informative videos, practice exercises and quizzes.
More information is available at midcolumbialibraries.org/pronunciator.
United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties and FamilyWize recently announced that local community members have saved $714,000 on prescription medications through the organizations’ partnership.
The results were revealed in a health impact report, a compilation of data reflecting the health and financial support offered by United Way and FamilyWize in its joint community initiatives across the country.
Key community highlights for Benton and Franklin counties include:
The FamilyWize program is free, has no eligibility or registration requirements, and provides families and individuals access to affordable prescription medications.
Visit familywize.org to download the mobile app, print out the discount card, or learn more about the program. The card is also available at United Way. Contact the office at 509-581-3943.
As summer kicks off, the Kennewick Fire Department is launching a “Don’t Burn Your Fun” fire safety campaign. The department offers the following tips:
Benton and Franklin counties each recorded increases in taxable retail sales last year.
Benton County tallied $3.9 billion in taxable goods and services, a 3 percent increase over calendar year 2016. Franklin County tallied $1.5 billion, a 7.4 percent year-over-year increase.
Continued gains in construction and auto sales statewide sent taxable retail sales climbing to a record $155.3 billion in 2017, a 6.5 percent gain over the previous year.
Statewide, retail trade sales also showed an increase of 5.6 percent to $66.7 billion in 2017.
Here’s the taxable retail sales tallies for Benton and Franklin counties’ cities in 2017:
Taxable retail sales include transactions subject to the retail sales tax, including sales by retailers, the construction industry, manufacturing and other sectors. Retail trade is a subset of all taxable retail sales in the state and includes sales of items such as clothing, furniture and automobiles, but excludes other industries, such as services and construction.
These figures are part of an annual report released June 6 by the state Department of Revenue.
The agency reports on a quarterly and annual basis the total taxable retail sales figures reported by businesses on their Washington tax returns.
The agency uses Census Bureau classifications to report the sales revenues by sector.
Is the Tri-Cities interested in supporting a year-round marketplace in the same way that Pike Place Market in Seattle or the Pybus Market in Wenatchee do? That’s the question that a community survey offered by the Port of Pasco, city of Pasco and the Tri-Cities Public Market Foundation want an answer to.
The survey, which can be found at tricitiespublicmarket.com, resulted from a months-long collaboration during which the team examined not only community interest in the concept, but also the feasibility of two sites: the downtown area near the existing Pasco Farmers Market and a former industrial site along the Columbia River, east of the cable bridge.
The survey is open through July 8.
The survey is part of a larger study looking at the feasibility of a public market in Pasco that is jointly funded by the city of Pasco and Port of Pasco.
The survey is multiple choice and ratings, and should take less than five minutes to complete.
Tri-Cities Public Market Foundation volunteers, identified by T-shirts, will be canvassing at local community events such as Pasco’s Food Truck Fridays and the June 23 Juneteenth Celebrations at Kurtzman Park in Pasco.
To volunteer, contact the Tri-Cities Public Market Foundation via Facebook.
Board members of the Tri-Cities Public Market Foundation are Ron Boninger, Tanya Bowers, Adam Brault, Mark Brault, Jillian Cadwell, Amanda Divine, Jennifer Johnson, Mark Lee, Craig Maloney, Ana Ruiz Peralta, Brad Rew and Heather Unwin.
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