Economic development officials in rural Adams County, Wash., want to increase their chances of recruiting food processing companies.

The county, Port of Othello and the nonprofit Adams County Development Council are partnering on an $83,000 study to explore developing an industrial wastewater treatment facility for the port’s Bruce industrial site, about 4 miles east of Othello, Wash.

In recent years, the county has been unsuccessful in recruiting food processing companies into the area due to the lack of infrastructure, said Stephen McFadden, economic development director for the county.

That includes a recent $350 million dairy-related project that would have created more than 150 jobs, but required a treatment facility capable of handling 1.3 million gallons of wastewater per day.

“There’s no such thing in our county,” McFadden said. “In the past two years, we’ve really begun to recognize that we are infrastructure-poor, in terms of attracting and serving business and industry.”

The study will be completed in December. The agencies received $50,000 from the state Community Economic Revitalization Board, and are sharing the remaining cost. They had their first meeting with engineers last week.

The county owns 90 acres near the industrial park. The study will determine whether it is a feasible site for a plant, whether another location would better and the best type of design, allowing for growth as new employers are recruited.

McFadden said the agencies want an environmentally sound processing facility.

“We want a facility that will use a water re-use technology,” he said. “Waste water will come in from a processor, the plant will treat the water to a much higher quality of water than what is normally sent through a processing plant and then applied to irrigated circles or sent down the irrigation canal. We want this water to be recyclable by local processors.”

The port has more than 260 million gallons of water available per year with the option of expanding to meet future demand, McFadden said.

Adams is one of the smallest counties in the state, and is “distressed” economically, McFadden said.

“We have one industry sector here, really — the industry is agriculture, that’s it,” he said. “We’re prime ag ground, we grow up to 60 different crops each year, depending on rotation. With open ground and the right planning, we would be a great location for food processors.”

McFadden hopes to target East Coast companies expanding into the Pacific Northwest or California companies relocating into a more affordable area.

“We have water, which is very important to anybody, we have cheap ground, we have a new area just opening up here with plots for sale,” Doyle Palmer, executive director for the port district, said.

Recommended for you