HERMISTON — The city of Hermiston made significant progress toward a planned project in its South Hermiston Industrial Park after the federal Economic Development Administration announced a nearly $1.5 million grant to the city.

The city hopes to use the money to make the industry park along South Highway 395 more “shovel ready” to attract new development, creating 16 new parcels in the federally approved Opportunity Zone.

Improvements being considered would include new water and sewer mains between South Highway 395 and Penney Avenue along an unimproved right-of-way and into property owned by the Port of Umatilla. It would also include paving the currently undeveloped Southeast 10th Street right-of-way, turning it into essentially a new road, and paving Campbell Drive.

The projects aren’t ready for a green light quite yet, however, as the grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match from the city.

“While it is nice to receive a $1.4 million federal grant, we still need to come up with $1.4 million ourselves,” assistant city manager Mark Morgan said.

Morgan said the city, Umatilla County and the Port of Umatilla will provide about $900,000 of the required match, and then the city hopes to form a local improvement district that would require the surrounding property owners to chip in the rest. The city council will have to go through a public hearing process and allow property owners the chance to reject the proposal if at least 60% formally oppose it.

Rep. Greg Walden’s office announced the grant funding on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and applauded the EDA for its contribution to Hermiston.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again — the Trump Administration and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross continue to deliver for Oregonians and provide the support we need in our part of the state to help us recover from some of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Walden said in a news release. “This money will support new water infrastructure in Hermiston, helping to grow the economy and jobs in eastern Oregon.”

According to the news release, the improvements are projected to encourage as many as 250 new jobs and $70 million in private investment in the industrial park. Morgan said the investment will allow the city to place more focus on supporting smaller light-industrial developments that only need one to five acres.

Morgan said COVID-19 has had some “interesting impacts” on costs of construction materials since the city first planned the project in 2019, but the city can always scale back how far the new road extends into the industrial park if needed.

He said he was grateful for Umatilla County and the Port of Umatilla for understanding the need to develop Hermiston’s prime industrial land.

and “readily volunteering” to assist in the funding match.

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