A $2 million Public Works Grant was awarded by the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to co-applicants Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center (WCWCC) and Port of Benton (POB) last week. The grant award represents the final capital required for construction of the $4 million Center. The building design process will begin immediately with construction scheduled for 2012.
The Clore Center site, located in southeastern Washington State adjacent to I-82 at Exit 82 overlooking the Yakima River, was chosen because of Prosser’s distinction as the home of the largest irrigated agricultural research center in the United States (WSU-IAREC) where the late Dr. Walter J. Clore began his research in 1937 on small fruits and wine grapes.
Through a joint operating agreement, the Port will oversee construction and own the building. The WCWCC, a non-profit organization named after Dr. Clore, will operate the Center to promote the quality and diversity of Washington State wine and food through education and hands-on experiences. Designed to complement its natural surroundings, the conceptual 15,000 square foot building and grounds will offer several indoor and outdoor venues including a tasting room, demonstration kitchen, agriculture and viticulture exhibits, classrooms, conference rooms, office space, retail shop, instructional vineyards, interpretive and production gardens and a walkway along the Yakima River. Fundraising to finance these fundamental assets in addition to furniture, fixtures and equipment is on-going.
The WCWCC will have a positive impact on Washington State’s wine and agricultural industries through education, increased product and brand awareness, job creation and stronger economies for agriculturally-based communities across the state. Increased product demand is expected to result in the creation of 69 direct jobs in the wine industry and additional indirect jobs in the wine and agriculture sectors within a five year period.
Currently, the Washington State agriculture and food economic sector is a $38 billion industry that commercially produces more than 300 commodities. The State ranks number one in the United States for production of ten commodities including apples, potatoes, cherries, hops and grapes.
Washington state is home to more than 700 wineries and 350 wine grape growers, contributing $3 billion to the state’s economy and supporting 19,000 Washington jobs. “The Clore Center will promote Washington agriculture and wine production while also being a tourism draw,” stated John Cooper of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.
An Outdoor Event Facility, a satellite building to the main Center, will open May 2011. The 2,400 square foot facility will include indoor and outdoor assembly areas, catering kitchen, office space, rest rooms and a storage area.
The Center is a partnership integrating resources and expertise of Federal Housing and Urban Development, Washington State Department of Commerce, Port of Benton, Benton County, City of Prosser, Prosser Economic Development Association, Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Committee, Washington State University, Washington Wine Commission, private companies and individuals over the last six years.