BOARDMAN - The Port of Morrow is now a partner in the Boardman-area free enterprise zone.

The city of Boardman and Morrow County previously facilitated the zone, which gives tax breaks to new companies to stimulates business. Although many new businesses in the Boardman area locate at the Port of Morrow, port commissioners were not involved in enterprise zone decisions because of a state law, according to Gary Neal, port manager.

That law has since changed, and port commissioners signed an intergovernmental agreement with the city and the county Wednesday that makes them a partner and renews the enterprise zone designation. The previous agreement was set to expire this spring.

In other business, the commission discussed possible federal economic stimulus money. Neal said he applied for funding for a repavement of Marine Drive and some rail improvements along Industrial Way.

Commissioners also heard a report from Joe Taylor on the progress of the Echo junction water storage project. The project's goal is to transport Columbia River water to the Butter Creek critical groundwater area to recharge the aquifer. Taylor said the project's developers are seeking help from the Columbia-Blue Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Council - of which he is a member - for grant writing and fund development.

Neal also reported on recent dock activity, port water usage and Riverfront center usage. The port's fresh water use is slightly up so far this fiscal year and dock activity is about the same. The number of people using the Riverfront center for meetings and conferences, however, declined last year.

- Erin Mills

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