Well Connected Electric in Lewiston has added eight crew members to a staff of four that originated in 2011 with two owners and two employees.
The business, which credits the Port of Lewiston with its expansion, upgraded electrical connections at the port’s container yard so crews could work on megaloads and also helped a company that constructed structures at the port to decommission submarines, said Brett Holley, an owner of Well Connected Electric.
Holley was among those who spoke Wednesday at the port’s annual budget hearing attended by a friendly audience of about 20 people.
Port commissioners passed a budget of $2.72 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1, along with a tax levy of $405,000.
A total of $1.25 million in revenue is coming from the port’s reserves and is the largest single source of money for the coming fiscal year. The port is anticipating $457,832 from rentals and another $405,700 from its container yard, where it has a large warehouse.
Revenue from the port’s container yard has fallen dramatically after ocean-going carriers that handle the cargo stopped calling on the Port of Portland, where the Port of Lewiston’s customers send their products.
The greatest share of the budget is going to infrastructure that will bolster employers. The port expects to spend $800,000 building a fiber-optic communications network, $781,000 leveling the former EKO Compost site and extending utilities to it and $100,000 renovating its business incubator.
The second largest category of spending is $376,852 for the wages and benefits of the port’s five-employee staff.
No one at the meeting questioned those choices and those who spoke praised the port’s efforts, noting how they benefit the community.
Manufacturing has grown by 40 percent in Nez Perce County since 2001 buoyed by Clearwater Paper, the city’s largest employer, as well increases in positions in the ammunition sector, said Steven Peterson, a University of Idaho economist.
The gains came at a time when Idaho lost 2 percent and the United States dropped 22 percent in the same sector, said Peterson, who has completed studies for the port in the past. “We’ve grown 40 percent while the rest of the world was shrinking.”
In other business:
- The commissioners discussed the demolition of a vacant house just north of the LC Ice Arena in August. The Lewiston Police Department will conduct a training exercise at the house next week on the premises. The port is tearing it down because it’s become an informal home for transients and been vandalized. It became part of the port’s holdings with the acquisition of a larger property more than 15 years ago.
- Commissioners heard an update about refurbishing 18th Street North. The project is expected to get underway this summer, roughly the same time that grain trucks will be using the road during harvest to reach the huge complex of elevators at the Lewis Clark Terminal. The work will include widening and rebuilding the two-lane road between State Highway 128 and Third Avenue North, but no sidewalks or lanes for cyclists or pedestrians. It’s a joint effort between the state of Idaho, Lewiston’s Urban Renewal Agency, the city of Lewiston and the Port of Lewiston.
Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.