April 4, 2024
Rebekah Huber
Port Receives Department of Commerce Child Care Partnership Grant for Colfax

Two-year award will support feasibility study, community outreach, and site identification

COLFAX — Today, the Port Commission accepted the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Child Care Partnership Grant, where the Port of Whitman County was selected as an Apparent Successful Grantee for a childcare project in Colfax. The Port will receive a two-year grant of up to $20,000 in the first year and $55,000 in the second year. 

The Port applied for the grant in October 2023 as a continuation of a childcare project in Colfax. A local organization initially explored opening a childcare center in their facility to help address Whitman County’s childcare shortage and completed a feasibility study. They ran into significant hurdles with their space and projected renovation costs which led them to conclude the project was not feasible in May 2023. In light of this, the Port formed a steering committee of community stakeholders to determine next steps and discuss the Port’s potential role. The Port Commission additionally approved the Commerce Child Care Partnership Grant application in August 2023. 

“Childcare and economic development are intricately connected,” said Hank Hanigan, steering committee member and Whitman Hospital & Medical Clinics Chief Executive Officer. “The hospital and other employers in Colfax have had difficulty attracting new employees due to the area’s childcare shortage, particularly in infant care. We are excited for this development.” 

The Commerce Child Care Partnership Grant program funds pre-design, planning, and organizing activities for childcare projects in communities across the state of Washington; it recently received additional funding. The grant award to the Port will fund community outreach efforts, a feasibility study, and identification of potential childcare center sites in Colfax. Pending the outcome of the study, the Port could build or purchase a facility, and then lease it to a childcare business or nonprofit to operate. The Port received four proposals for the feasibility study and related work and chose NAC Architecture as the consultant.   

“When we learned of the needs in Colfax, we saw a clear synergy between the Port’s existing work in real estate development, property management, and economic development, and the possibility of a new childcare center,” Port Executive Director Kara Riebold said. “We are grateful for the legislature and Commerce’s support of childcare in our communities.”



About the Port of Whitman County

The Port of Whitman County is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens of Whitman County through industrial real estate development, preservation of multi-modal transportation, facilitation of economic development and provision of on-water recreational opportunities.