On Dec. 28, the Port of Hood River finalized the purchase of a vacant lot just east of Wal-mart on West Cascade Avenue.
Dave Harlan, port director, said the five-acre parcel is one of the largest remaining contiguous pieces of light industrial land inside the city's Urban Growth Boundary.
He said the port paid $680,405 for the new property which already has full city water and sewer services. He said the site will be turned into a business park that will provide tenants with easy access to both the community and Interstate 84.
"Diversifying the economy while retaining and expanding local industry are identified goals in the Hood River County Economic Development Plan," Harlan said. "And they are part and parcel with the port's core economic development mission."
Harlan said the port hopes to bring in employers that will lower the county's existing high unemployment rate by providing good paying jobs that will also boost the area's average wage and hourly income, which runs substantially below that of neighboring counties.
He said the port's first step toward accomplishing that goal will be to improve the site with roadways, curbs and other infrastructure necessary to attract light manufacturing occupants.
"It is essential to have ready-to-build industrial property," said Port Commission President Bill Lyons.
Lyons said the recently acquired land complements the port's almost completed planning efforts on the shoreline of the Columbia River.
"As we prepare to re-zone the Hood River waterfront for mixed use development, we want to make sure we have adequate light industrial lands available to meet demand," he said.
The port is now setting up meetings with potential tenants, many from companies already operating in Hood River County that have been seeking room to expand operations. Harlan said the public entity also plans to market the site to firms outside the area.
The new port property, which lies just north of Wasco Street and east of Rand Road, was lightly forested for years and did not become a part of the commercial development that arose along nearby Cascade Avenue. It was purchased by the Houston Equity Corporation in 1990 and remained zoned for light industrial uses.