By Victoria Fowler
Gazette Reporter 

Palouse Knowledge Corridor receives funding from county .09 funds

 


On Monday, March 2, during the Whitman County Commissioner Board meeting, commissioners passed the motion to award $10,000 per year for the next two-years in public facilities .09 funds to the Palouse Knowledge Corridor for help and funding a full-time economic development position.

The motion was passed on a 2-0 vote. Commissioner Michael Largent was absent from the meeting.

The Palouse Knowledge Corridor is an economic development collaboration in southeastern Washington and north-central Idaho. This collaboration was developed as a way of promoting economic growth and prosperity in Moscow, Pullman and the surrounding area together.

Before the motion was passed, it was discussed by commissioners Swannack and Kinzer whether the Palouse Knowledge Corridor would qualify for .09 funds.

“Those who can have the money are those who use the money to finance public facilities serving economic development purposes in rural counties and finance personal and economic development offices,” Swannack said.

Based on the definition Commissioner Swannack gave, Commissioner Kinzer said the Palouse Knowledge Corridor qualifies as an economic development association.

“They are a cross-border organization and what they are planning to do is leverage the intellectual property of both Washington State University and University of Idaho so that more economic development stays in the area and use those items of intellectual property in a way it benefits both the region and both the universities,” Kinzer said. “It's an attempt to keep some of it in the region.”


Kinzer added that this organization would benefit the entire region and that was his reasoning behind recommending the motion be passed.

There is approximately $470 million worth of research happening each year between WSU and UI, Kinzer said. He added that there is a lot of potential intellectual property that could be developed here.

Along with the request of .09 funds, the Palouse Knowledge Corridor applied for a USDA grant. Kinzer said with this grant, for every $1 different entities contribute they would get $2 from the USDA to fund a full-time person as well as other parts of the organization as needed.

“I did tell them that the .09 money does sunset in 2024, they should keep that in mind too in case this gets off the ground and takes off,” Kinzer said.

The county receives roughly $600,000 a year from .09 money.

“We've used this money for the fairground grandstand project, airport project, Port of Whitman with the fiber,” Swannack said. “In terms of big dollars, the Palouse Knowledge Corridor project is not that many dollars out of our .09 fund. I just wanted to make sure it meets all the requirements.”

The Palouse Knowledge Corridor struggled to find its footing when first getting started in the regional economic development landscape. Kinzer said a majority of the beginning struggles was due to lack of time spent on the organization.

“Like I said, the Palouse Knowledge Corridor was struggling and having a very difficult time functioning,” Kinzer said. “Dr. Brian Kraft, assistant vice president, Innovation and Research Engagement Office, picked it up and looks like he is going to run with it and he looks like he is very excited about it.”

According to the Palouse Knowledge Corridor, it's planned to reposition the organization to become a cross-border, knowledge-based economic development organization with an initial focus on value-added agricultural products.

“By placing the emphasis on the word 'knowledge' the Palouse Knowledge Corridor can become the economic development conduit between the universities and regional business,” stated the Palouse Knowledge Corridor press release. “We have the opportunity to tangibly and meaningfully build knowledge-based economic development activities that can yield jobs to diversify and develop stronger resiliency for our regional economy.”

 

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