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Meet Alan Basso, President, Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners!

Alan Basso has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2012. He is a long-time Kalama resident and currently serves as a Lieutenant and Fire Investigator with the Longview Fire Department. Basso graduated from Kalama High School in 1980, earned a BA degree at Washington State University in 1986 and received an AAS in Fire Protection Technology from Portland Community College in 2010.

Alan is fourth generation Kalama citizen—his maternal grandfather, Otto Kockritz, was born here in 1890. His father built the Kockritz Hotel in 1908, which is now home to Poker Pete’s. Alan’s maternal great grandmother moved to Kalama, settling up the River in 1904 on a farm known as ‘The Red Barn.’ His paternal grandparents emigrated from Finland and settled on Green Mountain in 1919.  In 1923, Alan’s great aunt and husband arrived and purchased a nearby farm.  In 1948, his parents bought the great aunt’s home, and he, in turn, bought it to keep it all in the family.

“There are so many things I am so proud of during my tenure at the Port—of the 75 public ports in Washington state, Kalama is one of about six that carries out our business without levying a property tax,” said Basso. “Together, this commission has signed a contract to modernize and operate TEMCO, which offers a revenue stream for many years to come; we built Haydu Park; we started work on the Spencer Creek Business Park; we brought McMenamins to Kalama and the Marina has been modernized. And the amphitheater will be ready for use this spring. But I think that the biggest accomplishment is the fact that as Commissioners, we can set policy, turn our small staff of professionals lose, and get things done.”

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RiverJunky returns to Port of Kalama for intensive clean-up of Kalama River at Haydu Park, this Saturday, May 4

Local fisherman founds nonprofit river conservation program, amasses thousands of volunteers to clean up and conserve waterways around the Pacific Northwest

 

It was the perfect summer day for fishing on the Kalama River when local fisherman Jarrod Kirkley reeled in a stunning steelhead. What he found next totally ruined the moment: sticking out of the fish was a used hypodermic needle. Sickened by the find Kirkley got to thinking about what he could do to clean up and conserve his beautiful playground: a new river conservation program was born.

Meet RiverJunky Washington, a river-certified waterway conservation 501 (c) (3) whose mission it is to clean up rivers in the Pacific Northwest and reduce the impact of debris and garbage on the river ecosystem.

Kirkley expects around 200 volunteers at the Kalama River conservation efforts which will convene at the Port of Kalama’s Haydu Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4th. Teams of 7 to 10 volunteers will be dispersed to areas along the Kalama River for clean-up. The organization supplies all trucks, trailers, garbage bags, gloves and hand sanitation.

Interested volunteers are encouraged to call 541-441-7037 to participate or just show up on Saturday. RiverJunky rewards all volunteers with free gifts, raffle prizes and a hosted meal for all after.

“I’ve literally been fishing since I was two years old and I got so tired of angling in what was becoming a wasteland—I knew I had to do something to help clean up the situation,” says Kirkley, a third-generation construction professional with his family’s Beavercreek Construction Company in Castle Rock, Washington. “My goal is to raise the awareness of others who care about our rivers and continue to build a volunteer base to carry on these important conservation efforts.”

Since the inception of RiverJunky, Kirkley has organized thousands of volunteers and attracted thousands of followers to his website and social channels. His local efforts have cleaned up several Pacific Northwest waterways including the Cowlitz River and Puyallup River; and his conservation model has been replicated now in states as far away as New York.

“Our motto is ‘if one person is cleaning up trash it makes our world one times better; but if 100 people are cleaning up trash it makes our world 100 times better!” says Kirkley. “We really appreciate all of our volunteers who join in these important endeavors.”

RiverJunky is a nonprofit organization funded from public donations and sponsorships. All proceeds go directly to river conservation.

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Discover! A remarkable team leads the Port of Kalama’s award-winning dredge maintenance program

Port dredge maintenance professionals encourage young people to check out environmental engineering and science careers

 

After participating this week in another successful and productive Career Fair at Kalama High School, the Port of Kalama continues to educate the community—and in particular local youth—about career and job opportunities.

Meet a remarkable team of women who have dedicated their work—in part—to the Port’s year-round dredge maintenance program effort. The work of these engineers and environmental scientists help keep the Port’s berths and maritime business moving smoothly—all while ensuring environmental health as well as riverfront park and beach nourishment for recreational enjoyment.

Tabitha Reeder is the Port of Kalama’s environmental manager with a degree in biology and a masters in environmental science who leads the permitting process for Port projects. She also helps manage a talented team of engineers and environmental scientists on the Port’s award-winning annual maintenance dredging program.

With a location right on the Columbia River, the Port manages a number of deep-water berths to serve ocean going shipping vessels—in addition to a community marina.  The TEMCO berth requires annual dredging to remove accumulated material. Federal and state agencies prefer to keep the sand in the natural ecosystem of the river to maintain a healthy habitat. The removed sediment and soil are placed in environmentally-friendly locations whether riverfront beaches, deep water, or to stabilize pilings in the river.

It takes a complex suite of skills and knowledge required to keep those channels clear and dredging and placement environmentally sound. The Port is required to coordinate with numerous local, state and federal agencies for permitting on all elements of these operations.

Reeder works with Eric Yakovich, economic development manager at the Port to manage and direct the work of Jessica Côté, coastal engineer, Amber Roesler, senior environmental scientist at Berger ABAM and Sally Fisher, a senior project manager with a background in soil science and natural resources management at Berger ABAM. This ‘dream team’ provides pivotal counsel for the Port to keep maritime operations running smoothly—and within environmental guidelines.

The lead engineer and designer on all of the Port’s dredge maintenance projects is Jessica Côté, a professional engineer (PE) with a Masters in ocean engineering, who has dedicated her career to integrating physical sciences with engineering to solve complex coastal and ocean problems around the world. She builds and leads multi-disciplinary teams to evaluate project feasibility and design guidelines for small and large coastal development and infrastructure, shoreline stabilization, dredging, and marine transportation like that at the Port of Kalama.

Côté has always loved the great outdoors and spending time around water.  As a student she was specifically intrigued with how water works and moves. She excelled in math and science in high school and chose a career that enabled her to solve problems associated with water movement and flow on shorelines. After living on an island doing marine ecology work and learning to scuba dive, she started her engineering work and recently launched a private consulting firm working as a coastal engineer for clients like the Port of Kalama.

“The Port is extremely forward-thinking and proactive on how they manage their dredging and placement program—they are required to have a maintenance dredge program where they maintain water depths in the river where ships are coming in and out of berths and they take it to the next level. The Columbia River is tidally influenced and has a lot of sediment moving around in the river so as a coastal engineer I deal with the complex interactions between the water movement and that sediment,” says Cote. “We use survey information to determine the depths and then design dredging and how much material we need to move and place to accommodate the robust shipping industry at the Port.”

Côté says the opportunities for graduates in this line of work are wide open and she encourages people interested in this career line to dig deeper into math and sciences. She also encourages students to build a network, ask questions and seek out help and direction whenever they need it in order to keep learning.

Amber Roesler and Sally Fisher work together to coordinate with regulatory agencies on behalf of the Port of Kalama’s dredge maintenance program. They also applaud the Port’s progressive dredge maintenance program—and their keen oversight of dredging and placing materials intentionally to ensure healthy environmental habitats and recreational beaches.

The BergerABAM team provides the studies necessary to secure permits for evaluating dredged sediment quality and suitability. The team samples sediment for soil contamination and determines whether the quality of the soil is clean to place on the Port’s beaches.

“We help the Port of Kalama manage the dredging and soil or sediment disposal program in terms of selecting and permitting suitable places in the river or along the beaches where we can place the dredged material,” says Fisher. “That whole idea of best places to relocate sediment won the Western Dredging Association 2016 award for excellence—which was a very cool honor for the Port and this whole team. Working with coastal engineer Jessica Côté’s designs for best soil placement, we recommended placing dredge materials behind dike pilings in the river to support them and keep the river flowing without obstruction. There is so much satisfaction knowing you are helping your client maintain healthy rivers.”

Roesler says she has always been intrigued with how things work in the natural world—especially on a smaller scale and at the microscopic level so she started taking geology and botany courses to learn more. It was that interest as a young student that led her to studies in science and using math and science to solve problems.

Similarly, Fisher was always interested in subjects like water resources, biology, science and natural resources. They both recommend that students ‘take the darn math!’ It’s math that is everywhere and the building blocks of all sciences. They say stick with the sciences as there are so many jobs available to those who do. The team acknowledges that kids nearing graduation are nervous and overwhelmed but that a whole wide world of opportunities opens up to them if they follow an interest in science, technology and math.

“What we want everyone to know is how the Port makes decisions when it comes to the environment, healthy habitats and the river—the Port is heavily regulated and is required to work within numerous complex local, state, and federal laws and regulations,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at Port of Kalama. “It is the Port’s incredible team of engineers and scientists and their knowledge, creativity and relationship with the agencies, that enable us to offer win-win innovations to the community.”

Wilson adds that the Port is committed to creating a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—there are amazing jobs right here and businesses that offer exceptional opportunities in Kalama.

 

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Every day is EARTH DAY at the Port of Kalama!

What does Earth Day mean to us? It means celebrating our incredible home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest—and all of the awe-inspiring natural resources and outdoor assets that define our sense of place here.

As a special district here in Kalama, the Port of Kalama exists to ensure that the environment, recreational amenities and the economy are all healthy and thriving—working together in harmony. With a mission to provide recreational facilities for the community with insightful environmental stewardship—the Port invests in treasures that make Kalama a better place to live.

This Earth Day we celebrate the many recreational and outdoor assets we enjoy in this treasured place we call home. A key part of our mission is to ensure outdoor recreation facilities are planned, developed and maintained for tax-free public use—and this Earth Day we unveil some of our newest contributions to Kalama parks, beaches, marina and other recreational features.

Join us in celebrating these new community enhancements:

  • State-of-the-art playground facilities are now open at Haydu Park.
  • A long-planned community amphitheater is ready to open at Marine Park to host events, concerts and other festivities
  • The Port marina has been renovated to better serve public recreation and ensure environmentally-healthy marine facilities.
  • Port beaches at Rasmussen Park were nourished with clean, fresh sand dredged from the TEMCO berth basin to address beach erosion and maintain healthy fish habitat along a beautiful stretch of shoreline for public enjoyment.

We live here. Many of us are raising our families here—or even grew up here. We invest in things that make Kalama a better place to live.

Now, let’s get outside and play!

Happy Earth Day!




 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Saskia Van Verseveld

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Discover! The Port collaborates with schools and businesses to educate students on career opportunities right here at home

Did you know that businesses  at the Port of Kalama employ more than 1,100 people? When you drive by the Port you may not see a lot of people or corporate neon signs, but Port of Kalama businesses combine to create a formidable employment community in Cowlitz County.

From family-owned ventures to Fortune 500 companies, there are over 30 industries conducting global business and commerce including import/export, manufacturing, marketing, welding and fabrication, steel manufacturing, recycling, trucking and myriad other commercial and industrial enterprises. They choose Kalama for its ideal location in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and proximity to highway, railroad and the Columbia River

Through work at the Kalama Career Fair and ongoing engagement of Port businesses in educational programs, the Port of Kalama continues to build close relationships between students, the faculty of Kalama Schools and the Port’s business community.

“We have a strong commitment to our community—we exist to create economic opportunity for our region, now and into the future,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at the Port of Kalama and a collaborative partner of the Kalama Career Fair. “We want to help create a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—there are amazing jobs right here and businesses that offer world-class advantages in Kalama.”

The Kalama School District Career Fair takes place on Thursday, April 18 at the Kalama High School Gym.  It is planned to spotlight the businesses, career opportunities and family-wage jobs right here in Kalama—and beyond.

The fair offers students an opportunity to learn about the companies in Kalama, the wide range of careers available here, the skill sets required, and the pathway to obtaining those jobs. The event, which is organized like a trade show with booths and spokespeople, invites local businesses to participate and share tips on what students should be thinking about and learning in order to secure their job and career path.

One eager Port business partner and Career Fair participant is Rob Rich, vice president of marine services at Shaver Transportation, a company that offers Port of Kalama businesses a tug and barge assistance service for ships, inland grain and bulk commodity transportation, and harbor/marine services. Rich, has participated in all Kalama Career Fairs and delights in helping students understand the business, career and job options available right here on the river.

“I want students to know what is expected of them when they seek a job—they need a high school education, they need to demonstrate that they are capable of learning and that they can take direction,” says Rich. “And I’d encourage other Port businesses to join us—it’s so important to reach out to these kids while they are in high school to offer them job exposure and help them to discover their passion. It’s the best time to help them along their life career path.”

Students will attend a presentation on Port businesses prior to visiting the Career Fair so they can make decisions on which businesses they would like to learn more about.

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Discover! Why is the Port of Kalama investing in the Spencer Creek Business Park?

The Spencer Creek Business Park is being built as a part of the Port of Kalama’s long-term plan to diversify the region’s business sector—which is important for ensuring a healthy economy and thriving community. The new Business Park was methodically planned to support a mix of commercial business, retail, dining, lodging and light industrial when it is complete.

In fact, it is much like the long-term build-out of the popular Kalama River Industrial Park—also a long-planned and very successful Port investment. The Port constructs infrastructure like the Industrial Park as well as bridge access, roads, sidewalks and required utilities to attract productive business partners and opportunity to the community.

The Port built-out the industrial buildings to invite companies who wanted existing infrastructure and amenities. And the good news? The Industrial Park is now home to 10 manufacturing businesses and 100s of employees.

The Industrial Park has been so successful the Port recently built another industrial building to house new tenants who are core to the emerging steel manufacturing and distribution sector here.

The Port will also build-out some of the preliminary infrastructure and amenities for the Spencer Creek Business Park, which is a long-planned mixed-use concept imagined decades ago by the Port team and commissioners. This is all part of our mission to maintain the community’s economic health with thoughtful growth.

And the Port has already invested in the Spencer Creek neighborhood with the Haydu Park recreational facility we all appreciate. The Port will soon open a brand-new playground with state-of-the-art play structures for our children to enjoy.

With the current surface road project at Spencer Creek Business Park, we’re on the way to developing the area to welcome new diverse businesses and jobs.

Watch our video to learn more about Spencer Creek Business Park!

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Discover! Who are your Port Commissioners?

Port of Kalama Commissioners are elected to six-year terms as defined by law. Many of the Port’s projects and developments are the results of long-term planning and decades long vision of many Port commissioners.

The elected Port of Kalama Board of Commissioners sets Port policy following the organizational mission is ‘to induce capital investment in an environmentally responsible manner to create jobs and to enhance public recreational opportunities.’  The Commission ensures a sound economic development strategy for the Port to create a balanced and diverse industry base and provide living wage jobs and a range of community recreational amenities.

So, who are these community leaders?

 

Alan Basso

President

Alan Basso has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2012. He is a long-time Kalama resident and currently serves as a Lieutenant and Fire Investigator with the Longview Fire Department. Basso graduated from Kalama High School in 1980, earned a BA degree at Washington State University in 1986 and received an AAS in Fire Protection Technology from Portland Community College in 2010.

Alan is fourth generation Kalama citizen—his maternal grandfather, Otto Kockritz, was born here in 1890. His father built the Kockritz Hotel in 1908, which is now home to Poker Pete’s. Alan’s maternal great grandmother moved to Kalama, settling up the River in 1904 on a farm known as ‘The Red Barn.’ His paternal grandparents emigrated from Finland and settled on Green Mountain in 1919.  In 1923, Alan’s great aunt and husband arrived and purchased a nearby farm.  In 1948, his parents bought the great aunt’s home, and he, in turn, bought it to keep it all in the family.

Troy Stariha

Vice President

Troy Stariha has served as a Commissioner for the Port of Kalama since 2010.

He also is currently serving as Chair for the Executive Committee for the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments. A long-time Kalama resident, he graduated from Kalama High School in 1989. Troy has worked for Kalama Auto Supply and Repair for 27 years, purchasing the business in 2003.  As a small business owner within his community, he understands the area’s desires and future needs on a personal level.

His focus on economic development helps the port successfully create a balance of quality of life and family-wage jobs in the region. The Port of Kalama is an integral part of their community and Troy is proud to serve as commissioner. Troy is the father of three boys and has one grandchild. Much of his free time is spent attending his sons’ sporting events. Other hobbies include playing golf, watching NASCAR and attending community events.

Randy Sweet

Secretary

Randy Sweet has served as a Kalama Port Commissioner since 2005. An engineering geologist and hydrogeologist with degrees from LCC, Western Washington and the University of Oregon, he founded a very successful nationwide environmental consulting business.  He is also past president of the St. John Foundation and chairman of the Cowlitz County Planning Commission, and is a founding member of the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. Randy and his wife Sheli have lived in the oldest house in Kalama for over 40 years!

Port Commissioners have many responsibilities to ensure optimum use of port facilities, acreage and infrastructure. The commission oversees everything from marina and industrial improvements to due diligence on industries that fit and comply with the mission of the Port and the culture of the community, as well as investment in community recreational facilities like parks, walking paths, marina and other amenities.

Thank you for your service to our community, Commissioners Basso, Stariha and Sweet! You are appreciated.

The Port Commission is here to serve the community

Citizens interested in communicating with their Port of Kalama Commissioner can call the Port offices at 360-673-2325; send letters to their Commissioner at the Port office, 110 West Marine Drive, Kalama, Washington 98625; or email Commission@PortofKalama.com.

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Discover! Why does the Port of Kalama build amenities like the new amphitheater?

As a key contributor to the Kalama community, the Port elects to provide and enhance public recreational opportunities. In fact, ensuring public recreational opportunities on Port property is explicitly stated in the Port’s mission statement.

And we take that directive seriously! The Port of Kalama has created—and is home to—miles of scenic walking paths, riverfront beaches, a recently renovated marina and acres of public parks.

Over the years, organizations, individuals and groups in our community have looked at our parks as ideal venues to gather, celebrate and host recreational activities. With an increased demand for community events, concerts and public activities at Marine Park, last year the Port carefully considered the community benefits of creating a small public amphitheater to better accommodate those groups.

The intent was to create a more enjoyable guest experience at events like the ones we’ve been enjoying here for decades such as the Blues and Hawaiian Festivals and the Festival of Lighted Boats to name just a few.  Establishing a permanent stage and electrical power lowers the cost to event organizers since a stage and generators do not need to be rented for an event.

The Port also developed the amphitheater to support the downtown commercial district and provide an option for enjoying the park after a visit to the community’s core. We are also planning a beautiful new pedestrian overpass to support pedestrian foot traffic to and from the downtown area. It’s another amenity that will benefit all of us.

The amphitheater is nearing completion and the grassy open space we envisioned offers tiered seating for concerts and special events that already attract us to the Kalama waterfront. It’s a beautiful natural setting for events, and the area will be open to the public for picnics, gathering, and just enjoying the park.

Special heartfelt thanks go to one of our newest tenants at the Port, Bridger Steel, for their generous contribution of the beautiful metal roofing for the amphitheater. Port businesses contribute so much more to our community than just jobs and tax revenue—and their partnerships are so very welcomed. Thank you to the local team at Bridger!

Why do we contribute these amenities and features to our community? To make Kalama the most livable, prosperous place it can be. As community stewards our mission is to ensure that the environment, economy and community assets—like the amphitheater—are thoughtfully planned to work in harmony with one another.

Visit any one of our celebrated parks to enjoy:

  • Beaches and waterfront for boating and fishing
  • Facilities for soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, pickleball, sand volleyball
  • Equestrian arena
  • Covered picnic pavilions and playgrounds
  • Walking paths
  • Expo area for events

Visit www.PortofKalama.com for more recreational opportunities and public events.

For more information on the amphitheater and other Port recreational facilities, please contact Paul Morin, Recreation Administrator, at 360-673-2325.

 

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Depin Inc. expands lease to 33,000 square feet at Port of Kalama to accommodate product demand

The innovative and eco-friendly corrugated crate manufacturer expands from 21,000 square feet, continues to hire and grow at the Port

Depin Inc., manufacturer of Ecorrcrate, the eco-friendly alternative to wooden pallets and crates, has expanded its lease at the Port of Kalama to accommodate increased product demand.. Depin, which moved its corporate headquarters from Oregon to the Port in 2015, has signed another lease for an additional 12,000 square feet of space to grow manufacturing operations and serve a growing sector of customers.

Depin, which manufactures a patented lightweight corrugated product developed to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly, easy-to-recycle and cost-effective crating, has long served companies like Toyo Tanso, Fred Meyer/Kroger, Costco and Indow Window. Depin products were innovated as an option to traditional, heavier wooden shipping pallets and crates. Check out this video for more on the exceptional durability of Ecorrcrates.

The company now attributes its remarkable growth and expansion to adoption of its product by the enormous regional aerospace industry.

“We always had our eyes set on aerospace manufacturers and we do serve a number of industry vendors who use our crating products and helped to showcase just how lightweight, durable and efficient Ecorrcrate can be,” says Dan Bonebrake, founder and owner, Depin, Inc. “A common misconception in the industry was that our crates were limited with set sizes but we offer entirely customizable options. Our shipping products might vary from anything from a 2-foot by 2-foot crate to as large as 26-feet by 6-feet by 8-feet tall. We customize and offer extremely light recyclable shipping alternatives.”

The company, which continues to hire skilled labor, has added 15 new full-time employees since moving to Kalama to grow operations and distribution throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Depin now employees close to 30 people and has invested in significant technological advancements to enhance productivity, efficiency and time-to-market.

“The Port of Kalama has been BEYOND exceptional—they are true business partners and have worked with us on our challenges associated with such dynamic and rapid growth,” says Bonebrake. “It’s a night and day experience compared with previous locations. We consider the Port team friends and we have been very, very fortunate to call Port of Kalama our headquarters—there’s such an advantage up here and it’s the perfect location to serve our markets.”

Depin is a part of a growing community of industries and businesses who have found the Port of Kalama an ideal location to grow their businesses.  The Port boasts an Industrial Park, shovel-ready land for manufacturing, technology, storage and a soon-to-be mixed-use commercial development, the Spencer Creek Business Park. As part of its mission to ensure public recreational access and facilities, the Port also manages 16 acres of public riverfront parks that stand out as destinations for locals and visitors alike.

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Port of Kalama awards contract for Spencer Creek Business Park Phase 1 Project

C & R Tractor and Landscaping, Inc. will construct roads, a roundabout, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping in the first phase of construction at Spencer Creek Business Park

The Port of Kalama board of commissioners awarded the contract for the Spencer Creek Business Park Phase 1 Improvements Project to C & R Tractor and Landscaping, Inc. of Kelso, WA. The $5,591,238.13 includes site preparation, grading, utilities, roads, a roundabout and sidewalks, new lighting and irrigation.

Contractor work at the Spencer Creek site is expected to commence in April 2019 and run through mid-summer. Traffic patterns will be impacted so the Port urges citizens to watch for signage and check the Port’s social media and blog channels for updates.

The Spencer Creek Business Park is being built as a part of the Port of Kalama’s long-term plan to diversify the region’s business and will support a mix of commercial business, retail, dining, lodging and light industrial.

Similar to the long-term build-out of the popular Kalama River Industrial Park, the Port constructs infrastructure like roads and utilities to invite business and opportunity to the community.

The Port has already invested in the recreational facility the community enjoys at East Port with the opening of Haydu Park. With the surface road project at Spencer Creek Business Park, the Port is on the way to developing the area to welcome new diverse businesses and jobs.

For more on the Spencer Creek Business Park, watch this video.

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