Construction is ongoing in Dallesport on a new industrial development facility located at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport.
Economic development just picked up the pace at the Dallesport Airport. Tapani Inc. construction, of Battleground, Wash., began moving dirt at the industrial development site along the south edge of the airport and expects to soon have sites leveled and utilities in place for 17 lots. Depending on funding, construction of the first building should begin in a few months.
Development of the site is the first step of a larger plan that could provide jobs, housing and recreation to the Dallesport area.
“We are willing to make the investment,” says Klickitat County Commissioner Dave Sauter, referring to the county and the airport which is jointly owned by the City of The Dalles and Klickitat County. “I’m a huge advocate for infrastructure investment. My hope is if we can move some development east [along the river] to benefit more of the county,” says Sauter.
The plan is to develop about 30 acres into lots of varying size and build a “flex” building for the first tenants on lot number three, a 2.46 acre lot. The idea of the flex building is to house one or more tenants with multiple tenants being ideal and allowing them to share some expenses. Buildings on future sites will be done by the tenants to meet their needs. The types of businesses they are looking for are high tech, aviation related businesses.
The flex building is planned to cover about 12,000 square feet. The airport has $1.25 million planned for the building, $1 million of which is from a Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) grant from Washington State. Sauter said he was meeting with CERB this week to discuss a change in the tenant they expect to have for the building. The outcome of that meeting could alter plans, but the site development is already funded and will proceed as planned.
“The UAV (unmanned air vehicle) businesses are big in the Gorge area,” says Rolf Anderson, with Gorge Aviation Services, who manage the airport. “The Gorge is providing suppliers for the high-tech industries, like Insitu. The same technology also could be used for the agricultural industry. We are hoping to be part of that,” says Anderson.
Sauter points out that the type of industry that is being courted is complementary to the Economic Development in the area. The goal is not to compete with the Klickitat County Port, which deals with heavy industry, nor with the other communities in the area. The communities and ports are working together, promoting each other, says Sauter. They have linked internet sites and work together on promotional materials and trips. “I’m okay if we can help bring businesses to The Dalles,” says Sauter. “If it helps them, it helps us.”
There are seven lots being developed around the interior of the site, south of the airport hangers and along a decommissioned runway. Those lots have airport access, which is needed for some of the prospective tenants. Nine more lots are between the interior lots and Dallesport Road. Those lots will be accessed by a road that will be built and paved by the middle of May. At the southeast end of the site is lot 17, a 7.95 acre lot that will also have airport access. The road through the site will end at lot 17. Each lot will have electricity, water, sewer, telephone lines and internet conduit installed by May. Even gas lines are being put in place for the possibility of gas becoming available in the area.
Looming in the future is Sundoons development, a planned 18 hole golf course with associated condominium or housing developments.
The proposed site is on private property, east of the airport. Part of the golf course would be on airport property. That project is still alive and would be another key piece of the grand picture of Economic Development for the area.
“We are also working with the Mid Columbia Economic Development District,” says Sauter. “Job force training is critical to what we are doing. We are trying to push for a regional higher education facility. We see it [lack of training support] as a detriment to growth. These types of jobs need highly trained people,” says Sauter.
He foresees that the University of Washington, University of Oregon, WSU and OSU will all have some kind of presence in the area, either satellite campuses or electronic. He also sees a role for Columbia Gorge Community College as being a link for workforce training.