Water center at Walla Walla Community College gets $500,000 boost

The funds will be used to expand the center at Walla Walla Community College.

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The Washington state Department of Commerce has awarded $500,000 to the Walla Walla Innovation Partnership Zone for the expansion of the William A. Grant Water & Environmental Center.

Walla Walla was one of four communities selected to share $1.5 million in grants for Innovation Partnership Zones, an economic development model designed to encourage innovation through collaborative partnerships.

"Our state's IPZ program and the collaboration it promotes leads to ground-breaking discoveries and innovation," Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a prepared statement Tuesday. "The winners of these grants exemplify the talent, creativity and entrepreneurism that exist across our state."

Launched in 2007, the IPZ program advocates for partnerships across industries and public/private sector groups.

Areas across the state designated as IPZs receive special access to state funding and resources that otherwise might not have been available. The 2009 Legislature appropriated $1.5 million in the capital budget for IPZ grants. Innovation Partnership Zones designated before 2009 were eligible to compete for the money.

Past grants for the Walla Walla IPZ have been sought by the city and Walla Walla Community College, with support from the county, Port of Walla Walla and Eastgate Business Coalition.

The latest award designation builds on funds raised for the roughly $6 million expansion of the William A. Grant Water & Environmental Center at the community college.

The proposal includes a water quality lab to expand the center's mission of providing education and services in water management to enhance agricultural and marine wildlife recovery efforts.

Other communities to receive funds are Bothell ($500,000); the Tri-Cities ($250,000) and Snohomish County ($250,000).

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