Sunnyside Port Commissioner Jeff Matson was recently appointed to a group that has a lot of economic pull within the state.
Washington state Gov. Gary Locke announced earlier this month the reappointment of Matson to the state's Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB).
"The legislature funds the board in varying amounts," said Matson.
The point of the economic revitalization board is to help economically distressed areas across the state. Matson said the economic revitalization board is funded to the tune of $5 to $10 million every biennium. The board lends economic support to such entities as port districts and counties looking for help with funding projects.
Matson has served two previous terms on the board. His current term will expire Sept. 2, 2007.
The board currently has 19 people from different fields around the state serving, with one vacancy. Matson is also the current vice chair of the group. Toppenish resident Judy Boekholder serves as board chair. Miland Walling of Bickleton is a small business representative on the group. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside is one of the state officials serving on the agency board.
Matson first became involved with the CERB board while attending some meetings representing the Port of Sunnyside. Matson said CERB had helped fund some projects for the local port district.
"I was aware of the value of it," said Matson. "I pretty much knew it was a good program before I got on board."
Matson said a position opened on CERB to represent the port districts and he grabbed the opportunity.
Matson opted to seek another term on the board because he enjoys and believes in what the group is doing.
"I enjoy working with the projects and see what is going on," said Matson.
Matson said it is rewarding to see how the CERB program has helped communities prosper.
The board members meet six times a year with most of the gatherings occurring at Sea-Tac. Matson said between three and four projects are funded at each meeting.
Over the years, CERB has helped fund many successful economic development projects. But some of the most successful projects Matson has been involved with came in 1998. Matson said Gov. Gary Locke recognized the need to improve transportation infrastructure to help attract businesses. Matson said many cities across the state took advantage of the opportunity provided by the state to make improvements. The Port of Sunnyside and the City of Prosser received money to make improvements to Midvale Road and Wine Country Road, respectively. CERB has also helped the Port of Sunnyside with funding for improvements to its wastewater treatment plant.
The CERB program is going really well right now, said Matson.
"We have a pretty good funding base for the next couple of years," said Matson.
Matson said locally there are no projects he knows of that will come before CERB in the near future.
But, he added, "It would surprise me if we didn't have any come up."
One part Matson enjoys is the diversity of the group. Matson said the group is well represented by Eastern Washington people. However, Matson said the west vs. east side of the mountain politics never comes into play.
"It is a pretty good group of people," said Matson. "It is a good program."