Port Commissioner Mike Fredrickson and Port Commission candidate Barlow Corkrum were individually interviewed recently on KUJ radio.
The Fredrickson interview was informative. Jim Bock asked good questions and Mike provided a wealth of information. Everyone should listen to Mike's interview available via podcast on KUJ's website.
The Corkrum interview was worrisome.
1. Barlow stated the Port chose not to fund the Small Business Development Center.
The SBDC was funded through Washington State University and Walla Walla Community College. When the national budget crisis began impacting our state budget, funding for higher education was heavily impacted. Massive budget cuts to WSU and WWCC caused the SBDC to lose its funding.
The Port's longtime role with SBDC was only to provide office space not its operating expenses.
NEWS FLASH just announced Sept. 28: Because of the great work by the mayor's office, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, Tourism Walla Walla, Partnership Walla Walla and many others the SBDC is now set to reopen. The Port of Walla Walla and Banner Bank have pledged funds to add to new federal funds for it's operation. More donors will be sought. Kudos to all involved for this great cooperative success!
2. In the interview, the Walla Walla Regional Airport was referred to as the Port's Crown Jewel.
It's a good place (I've been a tenant for 30 years) but in the overall program it's not currently the Crown Jewel. That title is a roaming title from year to year. At present the Crown Jewel is Wallula-Burbank. Many seem to think Wallula-Burbank is not part of Walla Walla but it is a key economic player within the county. The Wallula-Burbank corridor plays a significant role, especially in terms of business tax revenue that once collected return directly to our county. Those funds play a key role in fueling the economic engines of Walla Walla County.
3. Barlow suggests selling airport property.
No. Technical ownership of the airport property transferred from the county to the Port in 1989. However, it's federal property. The Port manages it but it can't sell it.
4. Barlow talks about a lack of transparency.
No. From my position in the audience over the past four years, that is not the case. If there appears to be a lack of transparency, it appears only to those people who do not attend meetings regularly. Attending entire meetings on a regular basis fosters transparency.