With the departure this week of Tom Denchel Ford Country from Sunnyside, civic and business leaders are looking to the future and hope to bring a new venture to the former dealership site on Sixth Street.
"I think that Ford Motor Company will probably have someone come into town," reflected Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce President Ruben Carrera. "We've had other dealerships in the past and we're just hoping they'll continue to do that."
Beyond hoping, Carrera said the chamber is prepared to help however possible to fill the downtown vacancy.
"We can talk to them, offer our service, our website, whatever we can do," added Carrera. "We just want to make sure they are comfortable in our town. Whenever there's a blank spot in town we'll try to bring in something to help."
There's good reason, and plenty of financial incentive, to bring in other businesses.
With the loss of Denchel Ford, Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell figures the city will lose sales tax revenue of about $50,000 to $75,000 per year.
This comes as the city council is just about to begin budget deliberations for 2006.
"Losing $50,000 to $75,000 per year is not pocket change," observed Stockwell. "Denchel Ford was clearly in the top 25 for the city's sales tax revenue."
Stockwell added that the key in budgeting for 2006 is to try to anticipate how much more revenue the Ford dealership would have brought in next year. In turn, the idea is to either account for that in the city budget or anticipate other revenue sources to replace it.
"It's a loss," Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik said of Denchel's move to consolidate operations in Prosser. "But we need to work and see if we can bring in other businesses in its place."