Business Briefs – February 2023

Kennewick Bed Bath & Beyond to close

Bed Bath & Beyond is closing 150 more stores, including Kennewick’s, a week after the struggling retailer announced the closure of 87 locations.

In addition to Kennewick store at 1220 N. Columbia Center Blvd., the company will close four other stores in the state: Walla Walla, Issaquah, Bellingham and Vancouver.

The national retailer said in a Jan. 5 public filing that it faces “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue operating due to declining sales, lower customer traffic and reduced levels of inventory availability. 

Dates for the closures were not announced.

Ice Harbor prepares to make its move

Ice Harbor Brewery announced plans to close the doors to its original downtown Kennewick brewpub on Feb. 25 as it prepares to move to its new home less than a mile away.

The brewery encourages patrons to visit the pub at 206 N. Benton St. Kennewick before it closes.

Ice Harbor is relocating to a bigger space at the Public Market @ Columbia River Warehouse in the former Welch’s-J. Lieb Foods campus at 10 E. Bruneau Ave. An official opening date hasn’t been announced.

The brewery’s Clover Island property, Ice Harbor at the Marina, remains open.

Businesses eligible for Covid-19 impact grants

Benton County businesses impacted by Covid-19 can apply for the second of three rounds of grants through Feb. 28.

The funds are awarded by the Business Resource Initiative, a collaborative effort between Benton County and the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide financial support to local businesses.

Forty-seven businesses out of 237 applications received grants in the first round, which were dispersed in October 2022. Businesses can request up to $30,000.

The program includes $3 million in federal grant funds, which are being distributed in three phases, at $1 million per phase. It includes a coordinator to serve as a single point of contact and expert on available loans, grants, supplies, webinars, training, service and other programs.

Businesses may apply for the second phase at Call Tracie Boothe, 509-491-3236, for information.

OCOchem receives $752K grant for project

Richland-based OCOchem Inc. received a $752,000 grant to support its clean energy demonstration project at the Port of Tacoma.

The Centralia Coal Transition Board awarded the grant to OCOchem’s Formic Liquid Hydrogen Carrier Clean Energy Demonstration Project, which will be leveraged with additional funds from the Washington State Department of Commerce Clean Energy Fund, Tacoma Power and Toyota Motor North America to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of electrochemically converting clean energy, captured carbon dioxide and water to move and store green hydrogen in a liquid hydrogen carrier form.

It will generate distributed power and replace diesel gensets used in Tacoma.

Hanford contractor hits single-shell tank milestone

Washington River Protection Solutions, a U.S. Department of Energy contractor at the Hanford site, reports it has hit a major milestone in its work to remove waste from the site’s single-shell storage tanks.

It began retrieving radioactive and chemical waste from the fourth and final underground single-shell tank at AX Farm, one of a series of tank farms where waste was once deposited in tanks. The waste is being moved to newer, safer double-shell tanks until it can be treated at the Waste Isolation and Treatment Plant, or the vit plant.

It will remove an estimated 426,000 gallons of hazardous waste from Tank AX-101, which will be the site’s 21st single-shell tank to be emptied.

AX Farm is the second tank farm where such operations have been undertaken. The project previously tackled 16 underground tanks at C Farm, which was completed in 2007.

The AX Farm was built in the mid-1960s and was used to store waste from plutonium production until 1980.

It holds solid, salt-based waste along with liquid and sludge-like material. It is being removed by a process called “sluicing,” which uses high pressure water spray to break up the waste and pump it out. Workers operate equipment remotely.

It will take about 18 months to complete work at AX-101.

Cleanup of the Hanford site is carried out by a workforce of about 10,000 federal and contractor employees.

Visit Tri-Cities highlights tourism impact

Visit Tri-Cities celebrated National Plan For Vacation Day, which was Jan. 31, by highlighting the impact tourists have on the Tri-Cities economy.

Visitors spent nearly $490 million in Benton and Franklin counties in 2021, generating $51.2 million in state and local taxes and supporting 4,739 jobs.

For more about tourism and recreation opportunities in the Tri-Cities, go to:

Chamber presents  ‘Business on a Roll’ honors

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce will present its “Business on a Roll” awards at its annual meeting and awards luncheon on March 22.

The annual event is from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Three Rivers Convention center in Kennewick.

The awards honor local businesses for success in 2022 and for their positive impact on the community.

Webinars explain state’s new job posting law

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries will explain the state’s new job posting requirements in a series of webinars planned for March 1, April 5, May 3 and June 7.

The Equal Pay law requires employers with 15 or more employees to include a wage scale or salary range, plus information about benefits and other compensation, in job postings. It took effect Jan. 1

The webinar will examine what constitutes a job posting, what information must be included in a posting, what constitutes a wage scale or salary range and what information on benefits and other compensation must be included.

L&I offers free consultations to help guide employers.

Sign up at the department’s Workshops and Training Center page, Look for “Equal Pay and Opportunities Act” under the “Event Title” dropdown menu.

For information, email or call 360-902-6625.

Trios opens expanded medical-surgical unit

Trios Health in Kennewick has opened its renovated and expanded medical and surgical floor.

The 18-month, 11,574-square-foot project was part of the $28 million investment for a new birth center and med-surg expansion at Trios Health’s Southridge campus.

The expansion takes the Trios Health med-surg unit from 44 to 48 rooms that are slightly larger in size, and also results in an additional 14 rooms transitioning to a new progressive care unit.  The new rooms are on the third floor of the facility and feature new furniture, cardiac monitoring technology and vital sign machines.

The expansion is phase two of the construction project, which began with a more than 23,000 square foot addition to construct the new Trios Birth Center, which opened in March 2022.

CWU agribusiness program receives $75,000 boost

The agribusiness program at Central Washington University received $75,000 in federal funding from the recently passed congressional spending bill.

 Thanks to the help of U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and nearly two dozen industry leaders across the region, CWU’s newly minted “ag biz” program will now be able to develop a third stackable minor/certificate that will eventually be combined with two other certificates as a four-year degree program.

College of Business Dean Jeffrey Stinson said the funding comes at the perfect time for the rapidly growing program, which launched its first minor/certificate in food and agribusiness management and marketing in fall 2021. A second certificate in applied agribusiness technology was introduced last fall, and a third – which will be built around food and agricultural business innovation – is set for fall 2023.

UW medical school ending participation in rankings

The University of Washington School of Medicine will joint other top-flight institutions in opting out of the rankings of medical schools by U.S. News & World Report, beginning in 2024.

Other institutions making this decision include Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia, and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

UW School of Medicine said leaders concluded the ratings were not aligned with its values.

“We have determined that the current U.S. News ranking process does not align with our goals of creating an inclusive learning environment and developing a diverse and culturally humble workforce,” said Dr. Timothy Dellit, interim CEO of UW Medicine, interim dean at the University of Washington School of Medicine and interim executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Washington. 

UW Medicine plans to work with other medical schools to develop measures that are valid, meaningful and reflective of its values. UW Medicine also will continue to participate in the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, which is a separate survey and uses different methodologies.

Chamber relaunches Ask the Experts program

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce is relaunching its Ask the Experts program with support from STCU.

Ask the Experts is a monthly series of workshops that aim to educate people on business topics. It is offered free to the Tri-Cities business community.

The first session will be held Feb. 28 and covers using entrepreneurial operating systems for productivity and traction. Experts Brett Spooner of Gravis Law, Brandon Cortes of Campbell & Co. and Brad Sappenfield of Spotted Fox will present.

Sessions are offered on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Bechtel board room at the chamber building in Kennewick. Participants may attend in person or via Zoom.

Register at

Pasco hires Kennewick firm for Broadmoor work

Kennewick-based Goodman & Mehlenbacher Enterprises will grade roads as part of the first phase of transportation work in Pasco’s Broadmoor area under a $600,000 contract.

The Pasco City Council awarded the bid in January. The work includes rough grading for the future Road 108, Sandifur Parkway and Road 103 in preparation for construction of utilities and roads, which will occur in future phases.

Goodman & Mehlenbacher submitted the lowest of 11 bids.

The work is the first of many phases to carry out $40 million in improvements to set the stage for development of the sandy dunes west of Road 100-Broadmoor Boulevard, as laid out in the Broadmoor Master Plan.

Pasco is using tax increment financing to fund the updates, using taxes on rising property values to repay bonds issued to pay for the work.

“We’re glad we received several very competitive bids for this project, and this is just the first of many improvements to the area for the infrastructure needed to support the development coming to Broadmoor,” said Steve Worley, Pasco’s public works director.

Gesa has $100,000 for scholarships

Richland-based Gesa Credit Union is accepting applications for its education scholarships through Feb. 28.

Gesa said it will fund more than $100,000 in scholarships, including $50,000 offered to high school seniors who participate in its high school program, $30,000 for seniors entering their freshman year of college, $15,000 for Gesa members looking to continue their education and $5,000 for students with active student loans.

The program is open to any students who have active student loans, are entering college for the first time or are pursuing higher education.

Go to

Legends Casino Hotel seeks grant applications

Legends Casino Hotel is accepting applications from nonprofits for its annual Yakama Cares grant distribution through March 31.

The Charitable Contributions fund called Yakama Cares will be distributed in May 2023.

The fund assists many area nonprofits with several hundred thousand dollars in grants to groups in Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, Klickitat and Yakima counties.

Charitable organizations whose service area lies within a 100-mile radius of the Legends Casino Hotel campus and address a youth/educational need, elder care and activities as well as medical benefit to the community receive priority consideration.

Go to and look for “Yakama Cares” under the additional links at the bottom.

Legends Casino Hotel is owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.

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