Lewiston port a boon for economy, report says

Port is promoting manufacturing job growth, industrial base

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune

Nez Perce County would be struggling more to add jobs in areas outside the wood products sector were it not for the Port of Lewiston.

“The economy is transitioning (relatively successfully) into a more diversified manufacturing, high technology, retail trade and service industrial base,” according to a draft report about the economic influence of the port recently completed by University of Idaho research economist Steven Peterson.

This is the first time since 1997 that the Port of Lewiston has commissioned such a report. Port Manager David Doeringsfeld said the $7,000 study, paid for by the port, will be combined with one previously completed for the Port of Whitman County and a third being generated for the Port of Clarkston to provide a comprehensive look at the role the three ports play.

In the nearly 20 years since the last report, much has changed in Lewiston’s business sector.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has purchased property in the Port of Lewiston’s Business and Technology Park and constructed a plant, which now employs more than 225 people.

Howell Machine, a company that makes a variety of products for the ammunition industry, has expanded at Southport, an industrial area in the Lewiston Orchards first created by the Port of Lewiston that is now entirely in private ownership. In recent months, Howell was one of Lewiston’s fastest-growing companies and had about 275 positions in Lewiston.

“Measured cumulatively from 2003 to 2013, Nez Perce County manufacturing employment increased by 37 percent, providing a large, stable sector with above-average wage employment,” Peterson wrote.

The port gets money to construct improvements like industrial parks from Nez Perce County residents, who pay about $450,000 a year in property taxes to the port.

Each of those dollars generates about $9.10 in additional property tax revenue.

“Property tax dollars are reinvested back into the Nez Perce County economy for economic development purposes,” Peterson wrote, “including infrastructure development and property acquisition to help build the industrial and commercial land inventory.”

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.