Cowlitz County Commissioners have awarded the Port of Woodland $60,000 in rural development grant money for two economic development projects, including a new boat launch on the Columbia River.
The $4.1 million launch will be developed at Martin's Bar following approval by the port's three-member commission Thursday evening. Martin's Bar and Lion's Day Park make up about one mile of wide sandy beach in Woodland, along one of the river's widest points. The site is located about two miles west of Interstate 5 off Dike Access Road. It won out over the other site being considered at Austin Point, on the Lewis River, just upstream from its confluence with the Columbia.
Of the $60,000 in grant money, $50,000 will be used for permitting, environmental study and pre-engineering work for the new boat launch.
"We fully expect that both projects will have a positive effect on job growth in the Woodland area," said Nelson Holmberg, the port's executive director.
He said studies indicate the four-lane boat launch could generate business for the town's restaurants, hotels and shops from boaters coming into the area.
The ramp and its parking lots with spaces for 120 trucks and trailers and 60 single cars also could help attract sport fishermen and grow Woodland's already blossoming outdoor recreation market. The town is home to world-renowned fishing rod makers Lamiglas and G.Loomis and other companies, such as Topper Industries Inc., which manufactures floating docks and other water facilities.
The port also received $10,000 to study the feasibility of a light-industrial park for business incubation at the port's Guild Road property. "We're looking for small startups that have maybe grown out of their garage," Holmberg said.
He added that the business incubation space would be modeled after a project in place at the Port of Walla Walla where six small light-industrial buildings are set up to attract startup wineries to the spaces, which lease for about $1,500 per month.
"The idea is to help the business grow and keep it within the community," Holmberg said. "Our niche market would be outdoor recreation, anything from the fishing industry all the way to a kayak manufacturer."
The county commission awarded the port the full $10,000 that it requested for the feasibility study and 50 percent of the $100,000 it requested for the boat launch.