Tri-Cities ‘State of the Cities’ reinforces collaboration, growth and economic development

According to elected officials in each of the Tri-Cities, the cities are all working together for common goals. The main themes were growth and economic development.

PASCO, Wash. — The Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce gathered city officials and business representatives for the annual ‘State of the Cities’ luncheon Wednesday afternoon. The main themes of the event were exponential growth and economic development.

Elected city officials came together to reinforce one thing: that the cities are working together for a common goal.

“All of the cities are working hard to accommodate what’s here, and to make space for what’s coming,” said Kennewick Mayor Bill McKay.

The Tri-Cities is a flourishing space, with industrial, commercial, residential and an overall boom in economic development over the Mid-Columbia area in the recent past.

“We’re trying to do it, not just focusing on houses and stores and everything, but focusing on building a community,” said West Richland Mayor Pro Tem Fred Brink

The Cities have the benefit of close relationships between the towns. Elected officials from each city are working to grow together.

“It’s not that we’re competing against each other; we’re trying to mimic what everyone else is doing so that we can all offer the same opportunities to everyone coming into the Tri-Cities,” said Pasco Mayor Blanche Barajas.

What the mayors are really looking to maintain is the quality of life within the entire Tri-Cities areas.

“Public safety, and mental health. There’s a lot of good things going in collaboration. So you know, just make just let everybody know that it was a great place to live quality of life,” said Richland Mayor Michael Alvarez. “All the cities are working together toward a common goal, really helping giving our citizens a high quality of life.”

The event was not only for city staff, but also for local business partners who attend to hear about what’s coming, and what they might be able to take away.

“I hope they see not only Pasco but all Tri-Cities as good, stable potential partners and their businesses and their growth as well. So we’re looking for an investment right? We’re always looking for investment opportunities,” said Mayor Barajas.

With lots of planning ahead, all mentioned at the State of the Cities—strategic planning, redevelopment, widening of roads and many more things happening, the Cities have much to take care of.

City of Pasco

Mayor Barajas put an emphasis on economic development. There have been many changes to infrastructure within the City of Pasco recently, but there has also been a major push within the industrial sector near King City, bringing over 3,000 jobs to Pasco.

The Pasco Mayor spoke of two Amazon warehouses opening up, along with the Darigold and Reser’s, there is more to come to Pasco along U.S. 395. She also said more retail and residential development is coming to the Broadmoor area of West Pasco. Mayor Barajas said 7,000 mixed residential units are coming to that area.

She also spoke of future opportunities, including continued work on infrastructure, community resources and venues, housing affordability, homelessness, behavioral health and the focus on long-term vision and strategy over impulse issues.

READ: Pasco sees major economic developments on the way

City of Richland

Mayor Michael Alvarez began with the Strategic Leadership Plan and Community Survey, where the City received excellent or good ratings in safety in neighborhoods, quality of city parks and library services, Richland as a place to raise kids and employment opportunities.

He stated the City has 6 core focus areas: Financial stability and operational effectiveness, infrastructure and facilities, economic vitality, natural resources management, community amenities and neighborhoods and community safety.

There are plans to extend the Center Parkway North near Gage Blvd. and Tapteal Dr. in Richland, construct additional lanes to George Washington Way, Adams St. and Columbia Point Dr., redevelop to the Economy Inn the City bought and address the water conditions near the Bateman Island Causeway, along with many more projects.

Mayor Alvarez also spoke of the Horn Rapids area in north-east Richland. There has been a recent growth of businesses and residences. Mayor Alvarez said Richland is on its way to also becoming a clean energy hub for the state, with PNNL and other technology corporations just down the road.

READ: Richland engineers create first-ever commercial hydrogen generator prototype

City of West Richland

Mayor Pro Tem Fred Brink discussed the commercial growth West Richland will be flowing with in the near future. This includes Three Rivers Urgent Care, Papa Murphy’s, an animal grooming facility, HAPO Credit Union and Dutch Bros Coffee, along with many more businesses. Mayor Pro Tem Brink also mentioned the potential of a West Richland High School, which would have to go through voters first, pending bond approval.

He said there was a drop in single-family housing, but an increase in multi-family housing. The City is looking to diversify the housing availability. Along with housing, Mayor Pro Tem Brink talked about the Lewis & Clark Ranch Subarea Plan, west-most of the city, bringing over 3,000 new residences, along with a commercial area that will be equivalent or superior to the Queensgate commercial center in southern Richland.

The Bombing Range and Keene Road roundabout was also announced to be reconstructed into an intersection, as creating a double roundabout would impede on housing nearby. That construction is scheduled to begin March, 2023.

The biggest project announced was a more than $30 million project to widen a 3-mile section of S.R. 224, or Van Giesen St. east of Bombing Range Rd into the Badger Mountain area. Construction is scheduled Fall 2024 to December 2025.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: West Richland to begin Cooperative Way this summer

City of Kennewick

According to Mayor McKay, the U.S. 395 intersection construction and lane addition will be completed in November. Community safety, responsible government, infrastructure and growth, quality of life and economic development were the main points from the City of Kennewick.

High on the list of things the people of Kennewick wanted the City to focus on coming up is safe drinking water. The City has made that one of their top priorities.

Overall, retail, residential, school, public safety and food has grown in Kennewick. Mayor McKay cited the big picture of Kennewick, saying each department has seen a major increase in development. Mayor McKay also spoke about growth coming near the Three Rivers Convention Center.

Something Mayor McKay said he was looking forward to in Kennewick that they haven’t seen yet, was a Chick-fil-A.

“That’s my goal while I’m here,” said Mayor McKay, referring to a potential Chick-fil-A. “They know we want them.” 

READ: Vista Field’s grand opening celebration kicks off in Kennewick