Demand high for Wash. economic development grants

A Washington State program that awards economic development grants to jurisdictions statewide has been overwhelmed with applications, according to program administrators.

The 2012 Legislature approved $12 million for two temporary competitive grant programs targeted to help local governments. These are one-time grant programs and all the funds will be awarded by the end of the year. But the board received a total of $48.3 million in requests from 100 jurisdictions seeking grants.

The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) recently approved nine community revitalization micro-grant awards totaling $154,745.

Community revitalization micro-grants are $20,000 or less. Projects awarded funding aim to improve local economic and recreational activity by building facilities such as bike racks, installing new street lighting, constructing community gardens, and developing pedestrian trails in downtown areas.

CERB is conducting a two-phase application cycle for a separate pool of community revitalization grants for projects requesting $20,000 to $500,000 and larger economic development grants for up to $1 million per project. For the economic development grants, CERB is targeting projects that highly leverage funding from other sources and can measurably increase private sector job creation. CERB is encouraging applicants for economic development grants to focus on projects that are integrated with existing Washington industry clusters and are well-supported by local collaboration and planning efforts. Community revitalization grants are targeting projects that revitalize downtown business districts and increase local economic activity. Funds in both grant programs must be used for infrastructure construction.

Community revitalization and economic development grant requests of $20,000 to $1 million judged to merit further consideration will be invited to submit Phase II applications beginning later this week. Grant awards for successful Phase II applicants will be announced in December.

The nine community revitalization micro-grants awarded this year include the following:

City of Asotin: $19,500 for downtown street amenities including basalt rock and iron benches, picnic tables and bike racks;

City of Blaine: $18,261 for historically-themed street amenities in central business district;

City of Burien: $10,000 for artist-designed bike rack project throughout the city;

Town of Cathlamet: $16,000 to restore fire-damaged historic hall and repurpose for downtown library and community center;

Town of Farmington: $14,000 Rehabilitate deteriorating outdoor basketball court adjacent to downtown city park;

City of Kittitas: $18,300 to construct children’s play area, picnic shelter and basketball court in downtown park;

City of Moses Lake: $19,999 to develop the Heron Bluff lakefront trail extension linking a local park with a neighborhood subdivision, downtown and local schools;

City of Othello: $19,500 for a main street lighting project in the downtown corridor;

City of Wapato: $19,185 for “Cornucopia,” a project to build a community garden to help feed residents and a local homeless shelter.

“Micro-grants are a unique aspect of the Community Revitalization Grants program,” said CERB Chair Mark Urdahl. “These grants are funding projects that are small in scale but can have an enormous impact on the livability of our communities.”

“I commend the CERB members and staff for their creativity and responsiveness in implementing these new grant programs quickly and efficiently,” said Rogers Weed, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “These funds will spark vital economic development opportunities for Washington communities.”

More information is online at

Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board