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Newly approved grant program will replace community sponsorship and ad program

COLUMBIA RIVER PUD PHOTO - Columbia River PUD launched a new economic development grant program for nonprofit groups in the PUDs service territory. The program awards grants of up to $5,000 for projects that enhance economic development.Several agencies in Columbia County are making economic development a priority, and a regional utility district is no exception.

Columbia River People's Utility District will launch a new economic development grant program geared toward nonprofit projects that help business growth in the county.

The program, approved by PUD directors last Tuesday, April 17, will offer grants of up to $5,000 to nonprofit organizations that invest in long-term economic development within the PUD's service area.

"Supporting economic development efforts has long been a part of our corporate strategy," PUD General Manager John Nguyen stated in a news release from the agency this week. "This program provides an opportunity for us to partner with local nonprofit corporations in continuing that important work."Nguyen

Directors approved $15,500 for the program in 2018. Grants will be awarded based on the scope of each project. Grants awarded can cover up to 50 percent of a project's total costs, and a nonprofit corporation can receive up to $15,000 in grants within a five-year period.

Applications will be reviewed by an economic development committee within the PUD, then passed on to the PUD's board of directors for final consideration and approval, according to the news release.

"The Oregon Legislature grants Oregon PUDs the power to provide funds for these programs for the purpose of promoting economic growth and the expansion of business and industry within the PUD territory," a resolution approved by the board states.

The new grant program, in addition to a recently announced vehicle wash program, will replace the PUD's community advertising and sponsorship program, which saw the utility district provide support to community events and programs through paid sponsorships and ads.

"We have reached out to the local nonprofits who requested such sponsorships and advertising from us in the past couple of years to inform them of the new Economic Development Grant Program," Kyle Boggs, a community and public relations representative for the PUD, noted.

While the program is new to the PUD, it isn't the first of its kind among utility districts in Oregon.

Tillamook PUD also offers a similar program in its service area.

So far this year, Tillamook PUD has awarded grants for lighting upgrades at a museum, commercial water heater replacement at a senior meals program, and other energy efficiency upgrades.

Columbia River PUD officials say the PUD hopes to fund similar programs in the district.

Mathers "There are compelling reasons to have a program like this, and I believe we have come up with a balanced approach that will serve our community well," Director Rob Mathers stated.

Nonprofit groups interested in applying can visit www.crpud.net/my-PUD for more information. Nonprofit groups who employ or compensate PUD directors or employees, or any immediate family member of a PUD director or employee, are ineligible for the program.

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