Work to bring more industry to Woodland got a boost from the federal government as the Port of Woodland recently received a $3 million grant to put in infrastructure to house manufacturing-based businesses.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Aug. 20 that it had given the grant to the port through its Economic Development Administration (EDA) for the port’s Rose Way Industrial Park project. The $3 million will match $1.5 million in local funding and $1.5 million in state funding, the announcement stated, with the project expected to result in $6.4 million of private investment as well.
The announcement stated the grant supports the full infrastructure buildout of the project, located off of Guild Road near the port offices. In the announcement U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the grant would support light-manufacturing industry growth in the region, which fit in line with a commitment of President Donald Trump’s administration for job creation, “especially by improving our country’s infrastructure.”
U.S. Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, also spoke positively of the grant in the announcement, saying that the buildout is expected to bring more than 120 jobs to the area.
“Creating jobs and improving Southwest Washington’s infrastructure is of paramount importance,” Herrera Beutler said, adding she was looking forward for the completion of the park.
Democratic U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell also backed the project, noting in a release after Commerce’s announcement that she had written a letter of support. In the letter she wrote the grant was “integral to the economic development of the Port of Woodland and the larger Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan area.”
Rose Way Industrial Park will feature six industrial buildings ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 square feet on 12 acres of port land, Port of Woodland Executive Director Jennifer Wray-Keene explained. The first work will involve full infrastructure site work on the land as well as Rose Way, a planned road to the West of the property that Wray-Keene says will be a “backbone element” for hundreds of acres of future industrial development which the city of Woodland has recently received a report on.
Wray-Keene said planning for Rose Way began more than five years ago with a feasibility study, and is directly connected to another project, Centennial, also on Guild Road. The port had submitted grant applications to the EDA as well as the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) in 2019, receiving $3 million from CERB for both Rose Way and Centennial projects that year.
Once all documents are signed and in order Wray-Keene said the port would go out to bid for the infrastructure construction, also requesting a proposal for design of the first of the six buildings. She said that with proper approvals in place, work at Rose Way could begin shortly after the Centennial project, which is anticipated to break ground in fall.
Wray-Keene said Rose Way would focus on manufacturing jobs, as opposed to warehousing or laydown yards. She said it would look similar to the port’s Down River Drive Industrial Park to the east, “except (with) significantly larger buildings.”
Based on the port’s feasibility study Wray-Keene said the port could expect between 350 to 425 jobs at full build-out, depending on what tenants take up shop. She noted the port has a waitlist for businesses and has been 100-percent occupied in port buildings since 2014.
Wray-Keene thanked elected officials for their help in pushing the project, including Herreraa Beutler, the state’s CERB board and the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners, who helped with design engineering and permitting.
“These two projects have been a huge priority to the Port Commission to get these started and moving some dirt,” Wray-Keene remarked.