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Commentaries and editorials

Port Will Put More Into Business Park

by Elaine Williams
Lewiston Tribune, June 9, 2004

Budget anticipates extra shipping revenue
to boost investment in land, development

Cruise Ship Gets Stuck In Ice Harbor Dam Locks The Port of Lewiston is expecting more revenue at its shipping terminal in the coming fiscal year, making it possible to invest more in its business and technology park.

The $2.07 million budget the port commissioners passed Tuesday for the coming fiscal year includes $595,605 for land acquisition and development, about $150,000 more than this year.

The greatest share, $411,000, is earmarked for the business and technology park.

The commissioners are developing the park to address a shortage of flat land for new employers.

The first tenant of the 41-acre park is Interventional Pain Consultants, which occupies two acres and employs about 20.

Regence BlueShield of Idaho has a proposed 10-acre site in the park, but the medical insurance provider's plans have been on hold for a number of months.

What's making the port's additional investment in the park possible is revenue from the shipping terminal, which may be up by more than $100,000 this year.

However, even with the anticipated boost, it likely won't reach levels in 2002 before Potlatch Corp. shifted much of its overseas cargo from the Port of Portland to Puget Sound area ports.

Potlatch's goods that went to the Port of Portland went through the Port of Lewiston. The ones that go to the Puget Sound are hauled by truck.

The port is also planning for the cost of operations at the shipping terminal to decrease because it has finished payments on a crane.

Property tax revenue for the port will be the same as last year, $450,000. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $15 in the coming year to the port, according to port figures.

Troy Mitchell was on hand for the budget discussions. Last year Mitchell, through a signature campaign, forced the Nez Perce County Commission to decide if the possibility of disbanding the port should be put to a popular vote. The commission sided with the port.

Mitchell spoke about port figures that indicate the port's property tax rate has diminished for 16 consecutive years.

In many of those years, the amount of money the port received stayed steady because property assessments were climbing.

Mitchell wondered about the port's $2,500 contribution to the North Idaho legislative tour.

Dale Alldredge, commission president, said a majority of state legislators participate in the tour, which comes to Lewiston once every six years.

The event is an opportunity to educate and lobby lawmakers, Alldredge says.

The port's money covers just a fraction of the tour's expenses, which include transportation, lodging and meals.

Before leaving, Mitchell reminded the commissioners that while he is aware of the port's achievements "port is a four-letter word,'' without providing additional explanation.

"Good is also a four-letter word,'' said Pete Wilson, a port commissioner.

Others at the meeting praised the port. Among them were Robert Tippett, executive director of Valley Vision, who said the port's research had been vital in his organization's business recruitment efforts.

The port gives $32,000 to Valley Vision. That amount is the same as when the port first entered into an agreement involving economic development with the city of Lewiston and Nez Perce County in 1988, Alldredge said.

The difference is now the financial support of those three entities is being pooled with the private sector, which covers two-thirds of Valley Vision's expenses, Alldredge said.

Arvid Lyons, manager of the Lewis-Clark Terminal, said the port's leadership has helped maintain barging on the Lower Snake and Columbia river system.

Related Sites:
American West Steamboat Company

Elaine Williams
Port Will Put More Into Business Park
Lewiston Tribune, June 9, 2004

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