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September 17, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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September 17, 2015
 

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CHENEY FREE PRESS Thursday, September 17, 2015 district pl bein again for nty By PAUL DELANEY Staff Reporter Establishment of a port district in Spokane County, an old idea which would make it easier to help busi- nesses development, is getting a second look. Spearheaded by Greater Spokane, Incorporated, formation of this new taxing authority would aid economic development, proponents like Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove say. The proposed vote will not come until at least 2017 and not before GSI initiates an educational campaign on the perceived benefits of such an entity. Cheney and Airway Heights have each pledged $5,000 to assist while Medical Lake will pledge $2,500. Spokane is spending $10,000 and the city of Spokane Valley $7,500 on the campaign. "Clearly when you're setting up a new taxing district that has the potential of raising property taxes you have to make a pretty convincing, compelling argument or folks are not going to go along with it," Trulove said. Robin Toth, vice president of business development for GSI, presented the idea to the Cheney City Council, Aug. 25. Formation of a port district allows the collec- tion of additional tax dollars to fund both infrastructure and business development by assisting companies with funding that might not readily be available. Toth told the council that Spokane County is lacking a major tool in attracting business without a port district. Trulove, who also serves on the steering committee with others both in the public and private sectors, has long been a believer in the port district idea. "I've worked with port districts for a long time for a number of years, I think about 13 years (while) I was on the Community Economic Revitalization Board," Trulove said. That was a state program that made loans and grants to local governments to help lure private sector business to a community. "It was a very successful economic development program," Trulove said. But a public entity was required to apply for the loan or grant to put in the needed infrastructure that would attract business. "What I found, I suspect about 80 percent, if not more of the successful loans and grants were to port districts across the state," Trulove said. Currently 14 of Washington's 39 counties do not have port districts and there are 75 in the state. Trulove sees establishment of a port district for Spo- kane County having local impact on Cheney's slow to de- velop industrial park west of town on State Route 904. Land in the park could be sold to a port district, which in turn would construct a spec building where a business - or businesses - could locate and bring new jobs to the community with a tenant's lease pay- ment paying off the building. "Oftentimes firms that want to relocate, if they get help with the building, they're perfectly happy to pay the lease payments," Trulove said. "It saves them trying to go out and borrow the money." A port district has taxing capabilities that enables them to issue revenue or general obligation bonds, both ofwhich are backed by federal, state and local governments. Most ports districts have a fairly low tax rate. Moses O'Reilly Auto Parts looks for winter By PAUL DELANEY Thereis not a single met- Staff Reporter tic O'ReiUy looks at when Crews have been mov- placing a store, he said. ing quickly on First Street Information that comes into in Cheney with backhoes, play includes both area and graders and cement trucks vehide population and traf- laying the groundwork for tic patterns. the new O'Reflly Auto Parts "We look at competi- store. Now the skeleton of tors in the market, we look the building is visible, at how may professional The 7,000 square-foot service providers in that store currently has no spe- market," Merz said. cific completion date but, There's also proxim- "We'd like to have it open ity to other company by the end of this year or stores in the area - the early next year," Mark closest currently being in Merz, director of external Airway Heights -- and reporting and investor where a location is in relations for O'Reilly Au- relation to O'Reilly's dis- torsofive, said. tribution center, which in ---The company, head- thiscase~is~Seattle.- quartered in Springfield, "If we see a market we Mo. and which started from can come in and partner a single store in 1957, is with thecommurdty, pro- now nationwide after their vide a great service, then 2008acquisitionofSchucks, that's a great market," Checker and Kragen among Merz said. other automotive retailers. Some automotive parts "Wehaveauniquestrat- suppliers focus ononemar- egy going to market," Merz ket or the other, Merz ex- said. "We're very much a plained. "Our approach is customer-service oriented everybody needs parts." company and we focus on Having trained staff that both sides of the business; can help a do-it-yourselfer people like you and I who quickly solve a problem is work on our cars ourselves also a priori . "At the end and also mechanics who of the day it's about taking work on cars for people." care of every customer that opening Photo by Paul Delaney Crews have been working quickly to have the exterior of the new O'Reilly Auto Parts store in Cheney com- pleted before cold weather sets in. Company officials plan for either a late 2015 or early 2016 opening. walks in the door, going service," Merz said. Train- that extra mile to find that mg can teach the technical part they need to get their expertise, he said. vehide fixed," Merz said. To keep up with the While Merzhad no spe- demand for parts, stores are cifics, he said most stores K stocked five nights a week have 8-12 employees, in- fromthenearestdistribution cluding parts and counter center, Merz said. That's people as well as parts about 200-250 miles. "We stockersand drivers.There grow around where we are both full and part-time have distribution centers." positions available. The store will first O'Reillvs has a train- have a soft opening, fol- ing program for new lowed a grand opening a employees, but the first couple of months later. thing managers look for is, PaulDelar canbereached "Somebody's willingness at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress. to provide great customer com. Taste of West Plains is Sept. 18 at Fairways Golf Course The chance for area is a food festival and golf rett Bartley Band will and entrepreneurial men- businesses to showcase scramble hosted by the be playing multiple sets torship and education themselves in one loca- West Plains Chamber of throughout the day in a programs. tion, on one day and to Commerce. This year, concert that had origi- For $20, will provide a bigger than usual au- more than 30 vendors nally been scheduled for attendees five taste to- dience takes place this will be on hand with Two Rivers Casino butkens that can be used to Friday, Sept. 18 with the food, products and ser- cancelled, purchase items fromven- annualTaste oftheWest vices. All proceeds go to dors with more tokens Plains. The first150 attendees help fund the activi-available for purchase at Taking place at Thewill recewe a special 2015 ties of the West Plains the event. Fairwavs Golf Course Taste of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce Tickets are available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., pint glass, such as the West Plains at: WestPlainsChamber. Taste of the West Plains In addition, the Gar- Chamber Scholarship, org/Taste. Photo by Paul Delaney Formation of a port district in Spokane County, some- thing that will not likely be voted on at least until 2017, could provide neighbors to AIIpak in Cheney. Lake is just below the 45 cent maximum at 43 cents while Walla Walla collects 37-cents per $1,000 in a property's taxable value. A $175,000 home would be as- sessed just under $80 per year at the maximum rate. The Port of WaUa Walla is one example where a port disi ict has helped fuel its wine-making industry that has taken off and put that commtmity on the world map for something other than onions. The Port of Whitman in Pullman has built what are known as incubator build- ings that have 4-6 bays and house start-up businesses. Trulove cited the Port of Grant County in Moses Lake which took over the former Larson Air Force Base that closed in the mid 1960s and has been able to secure relocation of companies like National Frozen Foods and Genie Industries, the garage door people. "Spokane just doesn't have the capacity to do that," Trulove said. When the port district concept last surfaced in 1984, Trulove admits he didn't pay that close of attention to the idea. As an economics professor at Eastern Washington University at the time Trulove said he thought it was a good idea. The measure met with thundering disapproval at the polls by a 4-to-1 margin. "I think the problem back then was they didn't study it enough to make a good case," Trulove said. Paul Delaney can be reached at pde ss. com. HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS ImtSrove Physical Fitness & Confidence ENROLLING NOW! Fall classes start September 9. 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