The Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund was established by the Washington State Legislature in 1991 when local leaders, recognizing the mission of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was changing, worked with legislators to establish an economic investment fund.
The primary goal of the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Advisory Committee (HAEIFAC) is to provide loan funding that allows for the creation of jobs and is a means to leverage funds to help diversify the local economic base in the “Hanford area,” which is defined as Benton and Franklin counties. The fund receives a portion of the waste fees collected from low level nuclear waste deposited at the US Department of Energy site in the Hanford area.
The program is housed under the Washington Department of Commerce and is governed by all laws applicable to all state agencies.
Commerce Director Lisa Brown, Assistant Director Mark Barkley and their staff provide help, support and guidance with legal counsel provided by Washington State Assistant Attorney General Sandra Adix.
“Our partnership with HAEIFAC on local funding solutions is a unique and important opportunity to diversify the local economy and create jobs that strengthen communities in Benton and Franklin counties,” Brown said.
Who makes up HAEIFAC?
The advisory committee consists of 11 members representing the public and private sectors in the two counties. Per RCWs, membership consists of a “balanced membership representing one member each from the elected leadership of Benton County, Franklin County, the city of Richland, the city of Kennewick, the city of Pasco, a Hanford area port district, the labor community and four members from the Hanford area business and financial community, all appointed by the director of the Department of Commerce.”
The committee chair is also appointed by the director of the Department of Commerce with approval from the governor’s office.
Other HAEIFAC officers are elected by the committee annually.
Current leadership is provided under the direction of the Department of Commerce appointed chair, Skip Novakovich, who serves as the Hanford area port representative.
Other current appointed committee members are: Rebekah Dobbs, vice chair – financial community representative; Colin Hastings, secretary – business community representative; Phil Lemley – treasurer, city of Richland; Pete Serrano, subcommittee chair of private business loans, city of Pasco; Austin DePaolo, subcommittee chair of municipal loans, labor representative; Karl Dye, subcommittee chair of grants – business representative; Brad Peck, Franklin County representative; Will McKay, Benton County representative; and Paulina Perez, business community representative. The board had one vacancy in mid-April.
What does HAEIFAC do?
The RCWs give HAEIFAC the powers to (1) Adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of business; (2) Use the services of other governmental agencies; (3) Accept from any federal or state agency loans or grants for the purpose of funding Hanford area revolving loan funds, Hanford area infrastructure projects, or Hanford area economic development projects; (4) Adopt rules for the administration of the program including terms and rates pertaining to loans as, and criteria for awarding grants, loans and financial guarantees.
Contracts for support services
HAEIFAC has no employees and committee members are not compensated for their service.
The advisory committee maintains various contracts for support services.
The state Attorney General’s Office assigns an assistant attorney general to provide legal services. Accounting and loan services are currently contracted through the CPA firm of CliftonLarsonAllen.
Jo Larr Management Consulting is contracted to provide administrative services support. It is contracted with One World Technology.
Three subcommittees support the review of applications for funding. Each group reviews the funding application, conducts an extensive evaluation of all criteria and when its process is completed, makes a recommendation to the full committee.
The Private Business Loan Review Subcommittee reviews loan applications submitted from for-profit businesses located within the two counties.
The Public Entity Loan Review Subcommittee reviews loan applications from governmental agencies or public entities.
The Grant Review Subcommittee reviews grant applications from governmental agencies or public entities.
The firm contracted to perform accounting and loan servicing works with all applicants to ensure their applications are complete and the applicant understands and desires to continue with the process before submitting the application to the appropriate subcommittee for review.
The first loans to small businesses were funded in 1997 to Xactex, Plastic Injection Molding and One World Telecommunications.
In 1998 the first municipal loan was made to the city of Pasco for a water reuse facility to assist with infrastructure for the development of the agricultural food processing sector.
In 2011 a formal municipal grant program launched to provide local municipalities with a local funding match for grant applications.
The cities of Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and Connell, as well as the Port of Benton and the Port of Kennewick, received grant funds which helped leverage additional federal and state funding totaling more than $20 million.
In addition to the formal program, early match assistance of $500,000 was also provided to establish the CREDiT Loan Fund managed by the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments.
An example of recent private sector funding was a loan made to Iconic Brewing, which opened at Richland’s Horn Rapids in 2021.
Owners Matt and Deb Driscoll contacted HAEIFAC through a referral from their local bank.
The advisory committee was impressed with the owners’ significant personal investment and the potential to expand job creation and the number of craft breweries in the community.
Iconic Brewing owners have told the committee they were very pleased to have a local community partner to assist financing their startup, especially during the pandemic.
“HAEIFAC has been very accommodating with their financing terms during the pandemic as we navigated the challenging Covid economy,” the Driscolls said.
Another recent private sector funding was awarded to The Lodge at Columbia Point in Richland.
HAEIFAC was excited to assist in providing needed gap financing that provided a local solution promoting the development of this “boutique hotel.”
The funding helped the hotel retain its 62 employees and “encourage quality and loyal visitorship and economic investment in southeast Washington,” said Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Lodge.
A recent public sector financing example occurred when the committee worked with the Port of Pasco to assist with timely financing gap to buy land that led to the creation of the Reimann Industrial Center to support the immediate demand of industrial land for development.
The new Darigold plant chose the area, planning an estimated $500 million investment.
“We greatly appreciated the timely assistance of HAEIFAC in being able to put the financing together for this project,” said Randy Hayden, executive director of the Port of Pasco.
Loan totals to date
To date HAEIFAC has provided $25 million in loans to 47 businesses and municipalities.
It is estimated these loans have created or retained over 4,300 jobs and supported well over $330 million in local investment in private and public funding.
The advisory committee has provided many local businesses, as well as municipalities, the ability to acquire financing that allowed them to pursue opportunities to grow, create jobs and diversify the local economy.
The fund’s current loan portfolio includes private business loans to Fuse, Iconic Brewing, Baum’s Chocolates, Prepper Peppers, The Lodge at Columbia Point, Second Chance Spirits and Cookies R Rusk. Public municipal loans went to the city of Pasco for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and the Port of Pasco for Reimann Industrial Center development and the purchase of airport land.
For more information, contact JoEllen Peters, administrative consultant, at email@example.com or 509-547-9448.
Skip Novakovich is chair of the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund.