Food park caters to specialty foods, tourism

Dayton, Wash.

Facility to house organic food processing businesses

By MATTHEW WEAVER

Capital Press

A groundbreaking ceremony will mark another step toward the construction of a unique facility aimed at promoting small specialty food processors and food tourism in Eastern Washington.

The Port of Columbia in Dayton, Wash., intends for Blue Mountain Station to blend locally grown produce and organic specialty food processing with food tourism.

The ceremony, open to the public, will take place 2 p.m. April 15 at the corner of Highway 12 and Wagon Road in Dayton. Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse will be a special guest speaker.

Port of Columbia manager Jennie Dickinson said this latest step includes hooking the property into the city water system; building roads, sewers and parking; and installing conduits for telecommunication and power service.

This allows the port to prepare the property for buildings.

The port has been developing relationships with several businesses that are looking to expand to the park from outside the Pacific Northwest, she said.

Dickinson said she was surprised by the level of interest from startup businesses. Originally, the plan was for a

multi-tenant building that could handle several small startups as part of the development's second phase. But Dickinson said the first building constructed could house several businesses.

"This is all still in the planning stages; we don't have anything concrete yet for buildings," she said.

Dickinson said she is having regular discussions with six or seven businesses about locating in the park.

The first phase of construction will include about 8 acres.

"The goal is to create demand, so there is a need for regional growers to produce natural, organic and sustainable products," Dickinson said.

Products will be processed at the park as specialty foods. Dickinson said the businesses would sell their products under their own labels, but there is also a fair amount of interest in Blue Mountain Station branding. The port would assist the companies in getting their products to store shelves.

Dickinson said work continues on site plans and a traffic impact analysis. She expects businesses to be able to locate at the site by the end of 2011 or early 2012.

For more information, contact Dickinson at 509-382-2577 or jennie@portofcolumbia.org.

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