DAYTON -- The six-figure funding for the first building at the Blue Mountain Station complex seems like a drop in the state's capital budget bucket compared to the several multimillion-dollar Walla Walla County projects the Legislature funded in the recent session.
But for Port of Columbia Manager Jennie Dickinson, the $750,000 is a huge step toward the realization of the Columbia County business park emphasizing local products and artisan food processing.
The funding will launch the Blue Mountain Station into reality with the food park's first building.
The funds will be used "to build a multi-use building, with a small flour mill to be part of the building," Dickinson said. The building will also include a small commercial kitchen and small food-producing spaces and retail space.
Infrastructure is already in place, and Dickinson anticipates beginning the design of the building by July 1.
Among details to be worked out are who will manage the building, the flour mill and the kitchen.
The flour mill will need an operator, but Dickinson anticipates initially managing the rest of the building from the Port office.
She said she has talked with a number of businesses that have expressed interest in the station.
Cheese manufacturers, a hummus company and beverage manufacturers, including vintners, brewers and distillers, have made inquiries.
A man from Mexico who makes products using goat milk and honey recently talked with Dickinson about possibly locating his business to the park.
"It's hard for anyone to want to locate at a site where there's nothing there," Dickinson said.
Landscapers will begin planting this season, with the Port presently preparing to contract for part of the work.
For more information about the Blue Mountain Station, visit the website at www.bluemountainstation.com.