SBDC to move to airport gift shop spot

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Walla Walla's recently revived Small Business Development Center will be on the move in the coming months.

Though temporarily housed at the Port of Walla Walla's administrative office, 310 A St., the operation will be moving to the Walla Walla Regional Airport terminal building.

The empty space that formerly housed the gift shop -- which officials say has not been particularly successful over the years -- will be converted to office space. Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz said the conversion should take place in the next 90 to 120 days. The transformation should provide enough space for the center's office and a conference room.

And if you're wondering how things have been going for the Small Business Development Center since its recent re-opening early this year, Director Joe Jacobs, gave a glimpse of the operation's first 78 days during the Port Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday. A few details:

Jacobs is currently working with 21 clients, and another four are scheduled next week.

Of the 21, seven are women-owned; three are Hispanic-owned; and three are veteran-owned.

Generally three to five service inquiries come through the office per day. Many are helped through an email exchange or 30-minute telephone call and are not counted as clients.

Of those who become clients, the numbers are basically split between new and existing businesses.

Business owners have ranged from artists to medical doctors and their sectors have included construction, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, information technology, health care, entertainment and accommodations and food service.

Five are individually trying to access funding that will collectively total more than $1.3 million and create about 27 new jobs.

To learn more about services provided by the Small Business Development Center, visit wsbdc.org or call Jacobs at 527-4681.

One of Walla Walla County's biggest taxpayers may be one of the community's most out-of-sight operations.

On the west end of Walla Walla County are two huge gas transmission lines operated by Gas Transmission Northwest, a division of Calgary-based energy company TransCanada Corp. The lines run through Walla Walla on the 600-mile span between Kingsgate, Idaho, at the Canadian border, and Malin, Calif.

David White, director of business development for Portland-based Gas Transmission Northwest, attended the Port's Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday to share some details about the operation. One of them: The company pays about $900,000 per year in property taxes, which is the equivalent of about 1.5 percent of all property taxes in Walla Walla County.

"It's a big economic opportunity that no one ever seems to pay attention to, and it's a big deal," said Port Executive Director Jim Kuntz.

A few other details:

The line is located off Langdon Road in Wallula, where it's buried about six feet underground.

Cascade Natural Gas is one of the company's customers.

The operation transports compressed gas through the pipelines.

TransCanada has 35,000 miles of wholly owned gas lines and interest in another 7,000 miles with storage capacity of 250 billion cubic feet.

Compressed gas carried through the Wallula line originates in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, which trades 15 billion cubic feet of gas daily.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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