Below are highlights of the History of the Port of Hood River’s role in Economic Development:
A 29-acre tract of land west of Odell was purchased by the Port of Hood River to develop a light industrial park-which will later be named John Weber Business Park (JWBP).
Economic base generated on port-developed property in 1982: 19 businesses; $10 million valuation; $6,925,000 payroll; 710 jobs created; $172,000 property taxes generated. Port of Hood River purchased Wells Island in 1983.
Diamond Fruit Complex: The 21-acre cannery complex was purchased in 1984 for $800,000. Yost, Grube, Hall Architects of Portland developed master plan and economic/market study of complex. In 1985, Waucoma Center and Graf Building began their rehabilitation and Wasco and Industrial Streets were reconstructed. The City of Hood River agreed to form an Urban Renewal District surrounding the Diamond Complex. The 50-year old cold storage plant was transformed into a modern telecommunications center, with the help of a $2.4 million bond issue. United Telephone Company of the Northwest began the process to purchase the building in 1986. In 1986, the Columbia Building renovation was completed and DaKine Hawaii moved in. Other businesses to take space shortly thereafter in the Columbia Building included Hood River Brewing Co., makers of Full Sail Ale, and Kerrits Activewear.
From 1988 to 1990, reconstruction of Industrial and Columbia between 3rd and 7th linked downtown and the Diamond Complex to the Waucoma Center. The project included new water mains, sanitary and storm sewers, underground electrical, streetlights, curbs and sidewalks, and paved streets. A $521,000 grant/loan from the state along with additional funding from the Port ($307,000) and the City ($104,000) paid for these improvements. In 1989, the Port sold the property at 7th and Columbia and the Lodge at Hood River Condominiums were privately developed in that space.
Diamond Fruit Growers’ office building located at 3rd & Cascade was sold in 1990 by the Port-the first Diamond property to be sold after rehabilitation. Full Sail Brewing purchased the Diamond Fruit Cannery building and built new facility in 1995. In 1996, the Diamond Complex’s Graf Building was sold. The Port contracted a study of industrial land availability with the results showing that only 28 acres remained. Land at 5th and Cascade was transferred to the City of Hood River for the construction of a parking lot and a $350,000 grant was obtained for the project. Also in 1996, the Columbia Gorge Economic Development Association was formed as a coalition of all economic development agencies in the Gorge, including the Port of Hood River, with the mission of pooling resources to cooperatively market the bi-state Mid-Columbia region. In 1997, the Port partnered with Pacific Power to create a software incubator project at their Tucker Road facility. In 1998, fifteen years after the purchase of the Diamond Complex, the Port retains ownership of only two buildings. All others have been sold back to the private sector and are back on the tax rolls.
In 1990, Hogg & Davis and Wilbur Ellis establish businesses in Odell at the new John Weber Business Park. In 1993, the Port and Hogg & Davis donated land to the Odell Improvement Committee to create a two-acre day park at JWBP. In 1994, Power Design and Round Top Window Products were new tenants in the completed 20,000 square foot tenant building. In 1997, Hood River Supply purchased 2 ½ acres of property to expand their business. The Timber Incubator Building was completed with grant funds from U.S. Forest Service and Rural Economic and Community Development. Within two months, all spaces were leased in the 10,080 square foot building.
The Columbia Building was sold in 2003 to Key Development Company. The Diamond Fruit Complex Big 7 Building was renovated to house Gorge Networks and the Columbia Gorge Community College Hood River Center, including the Integrated Technology Center. Classes opened to the public in the fall of 2004. At this time, Big 7 Building is the only Port-owned building that was part of the Diamond Fruit Complex renovation.
The Port purchased over five acres of property on Wasco Street to develop a light industrial business park. Engineering and street work was completed in the 2003. The first building was completed in 2005 with Humanities Software being the first tenant. All other parcels were sold immediately and construction for new facilities for job creation and company growth began.
All vacant parcels were sold in 2005 and 2006 except for Lot 7, with new buildings constructed for local businesses.