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County commissioners OK delay in Sunnyside Port loan repayment

The Port of Sunnyside will have an extra year before it begins paying back a loan to Yakima County.

Tuesday, county commissioners approved the delay, which will enable the Port to begin paying back the funds in June 2009, rather than June 2008.

The Supporting Investment in Economic Development (SIED) funds-$88,000 in loans and $88,000 in grants-have enabled construction of a new road and infrastructure to service the new KIE supply store being built just off of Alexander Road, near Sunnyside. The Port also has plans to provide room for four additional commercial or industrial sites on the new, 400-foot long road named Baurle Drive.

KIE has pledged to pay $50,000 of the loan portion of the SIED funds, with the Port picking up the remaining $38,000.

Port Manager Amber Hansen said KIE is only paying a portion of the overall project costs because other businesses will be able to benefit from the end result.

Hansen said the plan between the port and the county all along was to defer payment of the loan for a year to June 2009 because KIE's Sunnyside plant will not open until this October.

"This gives them some business under their belt before they have to start paying," Hansen added.

The reason commissioners had to take action on Tuesday is because the agreement on the one-year deferral was overlooked when Yakima County put together the funding package.

Hansen said the extra year will also give the Port time to market the additional business lots on the new road.

Steve Hill is the director of Yakima County's community services and said there have been projects with other entities that have seen a need to delay loan repayments by a year.

"It takes awhile for money to generate," Hill said of paying back the loans. "We've had this happen with other projects."

KIE, short for Kennewick Industrial and Electric, has been in business since the 1950s and, in addition to the planned Sunnyside site, has other locations in Hermiston and La Grande, Ore., as well as Walla Walla.

Once it's up and running, KIE's Sunnyside location anticipates hiring six workers.

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