Tons of people have shown interest in the new wind turbine manufacturing plant coming to the Port of Walla Walla's Melrose Street property.
Since word broke a couple of weeks ago that the Port plans to lease its Melrose facility to New Wind Solutions LLC, several people have asked for an update on the project.
Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said this morning the lease has not yet been finalized. After a series of negotiations, the latest version is currently in the hands of New Wind officials.
The startup company, founded by Tri-Cities resident Mark Kean, plans to manufacture the blades at the 18,000-square-foot Melrose facility and eventually build the towers in Burbank. The blades have an unusual design: an elongated S-shape. According to a media report, about 20 people have been hired for the plant.
Walla Walla County commissioners Monday gave their blessing to a potential bottle plant project in Walla Walla.
The three commissioners unanimously approved a request from the Port of Walla Walla for a $100,000 grant to help with water line and other improvements at a site on Dell Avenue. Port and city of Walla Walla officials are working to site a company that will manufacture plastic bottles at the location and bring an initial 10 jobs with an annual payroll after benefits of $504,000 to $516,000.
The $100,000 grant will come from the Port's share of the Economic Sales Tax Development Fund, which is fueled by the return of nine-tenths of 1 percent of state sales tax generated locally to Walla Walla County. The Port can take applications and recommend projects for up to two-thirds of the money, but requests must be jointly approved by the county commissioners.
At Monday's meeting, Paul Gerola, Port economic development director, told county commissioners the project will involve a $4.4 million investment. The sales tax fund would be used to help finance installation of a new 12-inch water line and two fire hydrants to serve the manufacturing plant as well as the surrounding industrial area, which includes the Cliffstar and former Crown Cork amp; Seal plants. Walla Walla City Manager Nabiel Shawa, who was at Monday's meeting, spoke in support of the Port's request. "It's a great project and we would like to get the employment opportunities in the city and county," he said.
Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-526-8321. Union-Bulletin reporter Andy Porter contributed to this report.