CWEDA highlights benchmark report

Performance measure assessment is presented

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Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association President Paul Dennis has been involved in contacting a variety of companies that are interested in moving to or expanding within the local area.

During a recent performance measure assessment presentation to the Washougal City Council, Eric Hovee said of 37 contacts in 2012, seven projects are complete. They include the relocation of CID Bioscience from the Camas Meadows area to the former American Legion building near downtown Camas. Other completed projects include Fastenal, Fisher II, Robertson & Olsen, Sapphire Materials, Sharp Solar and Universal Jiu Jitsu.

The seven projects that are underway include Amnesia Brewing, Foods in Season, IMT Bodycote, InnoTech America and Mill City Brew Werks. The names of companies involved in “Brew Pub 3” and “Biotech 1” are not yet disclosed. Sixteen projects are considered active, while five are listed as dormant and two are considered dead.

CWEDA activities include marketing the area regionally, nationally and internationally and helping companies understand regulations and take advantage of business incentives.

Hovee, owner of E.D. Hovee & Company, said the economic benefits of projects involving CWEDA included 216 net added jobs, with an average wage of $56,800. CWEDA has a goal of creating and retaining 1,400 jobs within five years.

The 14 firms with projects underway or completed as of Dec. 31, 2012, represent a combined estimated $26.65 million of added capital investment in the CWEDA area.

E.D. Hovee & Company is an economic and development consulting firm, in Vancouver.

Washougal Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel expressed concern that nine of 14 projects were occurring in Camas, while each city is paying an equal amount of $50,000 per year for CWEDA services. The port is paying $100,000 to CWEDA each year.

“What is holding us back?” she asked Dennis.

He said the last year proved to be a great year in terms of planning.

“The port is opening up its next phase of the industrial park,” Dennis said. “We are already starting to get interest in that. Look at the waterfront. That is something you have that Camas does not. There is all this pre-planning that has gone into play. As the economy is turning around, that will pay dividends back into the community.

“As the housing market starts to solidify, that is one thing I would concentrate on is trying to add some rooftops to the downtown area as part of creating an economic hub here,” he added. “Downtown is close to the waterfront.”

Councilman Paul Greenlee said CWEDA is a fairly new effort and businesses that want to relocate, want to do it yesterday. He referred to the former Hambleton Lumber Company site at 335 S. “A” St., Washougal. Killian Pacific, LLC and the port each own approximately 13.25 acres of that land.

Killian Pacific, a commercial real-estate development and investment company, has created The Crossing and Evergreen Marketplace, in Washougal, as well as the Grand Central and Riverstone Marketplace developments, in Vancouver.

“I think in the next few years, there will be some land that you really can put a substantial building on, in about six months from permit to occupancy,” Greenlee said.

Roads, water, sewer, electric, cable and internet have been installed in the Steigerwald Commerce Center, next to the port’s existing industrial park.

The first phase of the commerce center — near South Truman and 37th streets — will make 30 to 40 acres of heavy industrial property available. When completed, it will include more than 122 acres.

Port Commissioner Mark Lampton said economic development is a team sport.

“Ninety-eight percent of the port’s assets are in Washougal,” he said.

That includes the Steigerwald Commerce Center and the former Hambleton waterfront property.

“Washougal will probably see more new development than any other community in the county,” Lampton said. “Don’t get bogged down in the details. Performance is everything.”

The benchmark report that E.D. Hovee & Company completed on behalf of CWEDA, was unanimously adopted by the CWEDA board. The next board meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1:30 p.m., in the in the second floor conference room, in Washougal Town Square, 1700 Main St., Washougal. Meetings are open to the public.

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