City Council discusses grant to expand tech entrepreneurship, downtown infrastructure

Grant would be investment for collaboration between Pullman, WSU, Port of Whitman County, councilmember said

The+grant+could+bring+more+entrepreneurs+to+downtown+Pullman%2C+said+economic+development+manager+Jennifer+Hackman.

MEETING SCREENSHOT

The grant could bring more entrepreneurs to downtown Pullman, said economic development manager Jennifer Hackman.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

Councilmembers discussed a new Economic Development Administration grant collaboration between WSU and Pullman during a city council meeting on Tuesday.

WSU is looking into an EDA grant to expand technology entrepreneurship and infrastructure in downtown Pullman and surrounding areas, Councilmember Nathan Weller said.

The grant would be used to support WSU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and bring entrepreneurs to the downtown area, said economic development manager Jennifer Hackman.

“This is a bit of a long shot, but I think this would be the start of future opportunities and relationships,” she said.

Weller said the grant is an investment for future collaborations between WSU, Pullman and the Port of Whitman County. 

“We do need to look forward past the pandemic in bringing everyone forward and bringing people back into Pullman,” he said.

Pullman City Council needs to focus on business retention and assistance during COVID-19, Hackman said.

In 2021 and 2022, it will be important to revitalize downtown, focus on business retention and expansion, she said. Other efforts should include attracting and expanding retail partnerships and commercial investment, she added. 

Hackman said the city council should focus on reaching out to businesses. Local business owners should be asked what challenges they are experiencing, their future business plans and what feedback they have for the council. 

“If businesses are struggling, they can be referred to a business consultant,” she said. 

The council could potentially work with several economic development partners, including Port of Whitman County, WSU and Vista Developers, for different projects like revitalizing downtown, Hackman said. 

The Planning Department would like to hire a full-time entry-level planning staffer starting in summer 2021 to assist with customer service and planning aspects, said RJ Lott, councilmember and planning director.

“There really is a need, and it would help provide better service for the stakeholders of the city,” he said.