Chelan County Growth

Chelan County projects get boost

$2.5M: ‘Cascade Fund’ grants rural growth money

 

Story and photos by Gary Bégin

NCW Media Managing Editor

The Board of Chelan County Commissioners last week approved the Cascade Public Infrastructure Fund (CPIF), a grant program for public facility projects serving economic development, unanimously. 

Because these funds can only be spent for public facility projects, eligible applicants will be entities like city governments, the Chelan-Douglas Port Authority, water districts, and other junior taxing districts that can demonstrate a nexus between their proposed project and economic development.

Public facilities” includes bridges, roads, water, sewer, and other utility systems, port facilities, and more, according to strict interpretation of the rural counties tax laws.

The grant program does not impose a new tax on Chelan County citizens, but instead will be funded by existing revenues from the sales and use tax for public facilities in rural counties (Rural Counties Tax) which is a .09 percent remittance on the state’s sales tax.

Over the next three years, the CPIF plans to invest nearly $2.5 million into economic development projects in Chelan County.

“The CPIF grant program will be a critical resource in local economic development to grow the private sector in order to incentivize and attract new businesses to Chelan County, while at the same retain and expand current businesses,” said Blake Baldwin, Director of Economic Development for Chelan County.  “The county is eager to make investments that will strengthen our economy and create family wage jobs and opportunities available to county residents.”

Baldwin spoke exclusively with NCW Media and added the following to his original news release:

“Public investment in these utilities is critical to economic development to help ensure a project site is equipped with infrastructure that will not only incentivize new industry to relocate to Chelan County, but will also help expand and grow existing businesses.

The CPIF Advisory Committee will be looking at several priorities to evaluate, score, and rank projects, including: How many jobs the project will attract to Chelan County, he said.

Also included and highly prized as part of the incentive package are projects that significantly increase county revenues, such as sales tax, property tax, and personal property tax.

“The increase in revenue benefits local governments and junior taxing districts, which in turn helps ease the tax burden upon Chelan County citizens” will be a major criteria in the selection process, according to Baldwin.

How the project will improve the quality of life for Chelan County citizens as well as how projects can demonstrate a partnership between the applicant and another public entity and/or private sector business or organization

This often means the project has secured matching funds which helps stretch the CPIF grant program further allowing for more public investment in economic development.

The Chelan County Board of Commissioners will assemble the CPIF Advisory will also be a major consideration, according to Baldwin.

A committee to help guide and inform the decision-making process for these public investments will be formed consisting of eleven members and the county,  and will begin extending invitations to “desired participants.”

Desired participants include representatives from city governments in Chelan County, community councils, the Hispanic Business Council, and the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority. These entities will be asked to send project details.

The committee will review, score, and rank all applications and submit their recommendations to the Chelan County Board of Commissioners for final decision making. 

Chelan County will be accepting CPIF grant applications from March 29 to May 7 and awards will be announced in early June.  Applications will be available at co.chelan.wa.us

To receive a CPIF grant, the applicant must be a public entity and the public facility project must meet the definitions described in RCW 82.14.370.  Furthermore, the project must be listed or referenced in the economic development element of the Chelan County Comprehensive Plan, or the comprehensive plan of a city or town located within the county. 

“We look forward to bringing our local government and community partners together to advise and inform the commission’s CPIF investments in Chelan County,” said Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay. 

“The county plans to work with our public sector partners to prioritize investments that will increase county revenues, in turn helping to ease the tax burden to county citizens,” Overbay concluded.

NCW Media reached out to Baldwin for more details regarding specific projects that might be receiving consideration from the project-ranking committee. He said the list will be revealed after the application filing deadline.

Be sure to continue reading NCW Media publications for the latest on this important fiscal “shot in the arm” for county projects.

User menu

NCW Media Newspapers