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Port district expansion bringing many jobs to Sunnyside

A total of 27 new jobs - and counting - are heading to the Sunnyside area in the wake of two grant/loan packages awarded to the Port of Sunnyside last week.

Last Friday, port commissioners held a special meeting to formally accept the funds from the Yakima Valley Development Association's (YCDA) economic development program.

The two packages still need to be formally adopted by Yakima County commissioners at a future meeting.

One of the projects funded by the development association is a second spur rail line for Bleyhl's propane storage and distribution site on Midvale Road. The port owns the rail spurs, which are then leased to Bleyhl's.

The project, which will add two new jobs to the Sunnyside area, is to be completed this summer at a total cost of $315,000. YCDA is providing a $68,000 grant and a $206,000 loan to aid the second rail spur.

Bigger still is a $1 million loan from YCDA funds that will help the port construct an anaerobic digester to double its wastewater processing capacity.

The overall price tag for the digester, to be built next to the port's industrial wastewater plant on Midvale Road, is $6 million.

With the partnership and support from the YCDA, though, it's hoped that the port will have an even better chance at obtaining federal grant funds for the project.

Jay Hester is the port's executive director, and says the port currently has sufficient capacity to process wastewater from local industrial customers such as Darigold and JM Eagle.

But there is interest both state and nationwide for future development at the port by industries considering the Sunnyside area, Hester says. He notes additional capacity is needed to meet that future demand.

The new anaerobic digester will not only create 25 new jobs from industries already located in Sunnyside, but has the potential to attract additional jobs as other industries look to this area.

The port's goal is to have its wastewater plant expansion completed in the next 16 to 18 months.

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