The Port of Camas-Washougal is considering spending $100,000 for the design, engineering and permitting of an industrial park structure originally billed as an incubator building.
Port Chief Executive Officer David Ripp referred to the future Building 19, as a “smaller, incubator building” during the Oct. 15 port commission meeting.
Unlike a traditional incubator, tenants would not share space or resources.
During a follow-up phone interview, Ripp described the future Building 19 as a “small space where businesses can incubate and grow and hopefully expand to a larger space.”
Since the Building 19 tenants will not share office, clerical or meeting room space — as is customary with most business incubators — Ripp said it may not be an incubator building.
He thinks there will be three, 3,300-square-foot bays in the building to house three companies and provide 10 to 20 manufacturing, warehouse and/or food processing “family wage” jobs in the Washougal-based Steigerwald Commerce Center.
The $100,000 for the design, engineering and permitting of Building 19 is included in the port’s 2019 preliminary budget.
Proceeds from the port’s sale of land to companies, including McDonald Excavating, Inc., Stainless Cable and Railing Inc., Northwest Adhesives, Inc. and Columbia Forge and Next Machining Solutions, will fund the $1.5 million Building 19. If the project moves forward, construction could occur in 2020.
Port Commissioner John Spencer said he thinks a traditional incubator building — with businesses sharing office, clerical or meeting room space — could be included in the Steigerwald Commerce Center.
Spencer, a management consultant with Pulse Consulting, LLC, of Camas, said building incubator space helps grow small businesses, which are the “bread and butter” of the economy.
“In my professional life, I often come across people with good ideas and skills, but who lack capital, staffing and/or business knowledge,” he said. “Incubators can help.”
“I often dream of incubator space that comes with certain programs that can help extend knowledge, provide access to capital and assist with business planning,” Spencer added.
Paul Dennis, president and chief executive officer of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association (CWEDA), said people tend not to use the term, “incubator buildings” anymore, preferring “innovation centers” instead.
He said the CWEDA board discussed the idea of an incubator building in the Steigerwald Commerce Center six years ago, but determined it did not make sense.
“Most incubators do not make money,” Dennis said. “Innovation centers make money, because they are getting outside funding, like grants.”
To make an innovation center successful, Dennis said they need to be tied to higher education.
“Most innovation centers I’ve seen, the main operator is usually a PhD level — an expert in research and development in a field that the innovation center is trying to attract,” he said.
In addition to the $100,000 for the design, engineering and permitting of Building 19, other capital improvement projects in the 2019 budget include a natural play area Washougal Waterfront Park ($336,801), marina launch ramp floats ($165,000), sealing the roof of the “A” Row hangar at Grove Field Airport ($50,000) and HVAC units in the industrial park ($75,000).
The budget also includes a 3.5-percent cost of living adjustment for employees.
The port will hold a public hearing during the 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 19, Port Commission meeting, in the port meeting room, 24 S. “A” St., Washougal.