A new business incubator space, a satellite branch of South Puget Sound Community College, and a water tower-turned-art-installation all are on the horizon for the City of Yelm.

Through grant funding from the Washington State Legislature, $200,000 has been allocated to the city in the 2019-2021 capital budget for these Yelm projects. This amount will be used to fund the conceptual design, architectural renderings, community engagement studies, and cost estimate for the multi-story, mixed-use building.

The building will be used as a business incubator to serve rural parts of Thurston and Pierce counties, and as a satellite campus for SPSCC so that Yelm residents can earn their associate degrees without having to travel to the Olympia or Lacey site.

The City of Yelm recently purchased an existing building with which to revitalize Yelm City Hall, along with an adjacent half-acre of commercial property. Since the purchase, city staff and regional partners have been exploring the best way to develop the property. It was determined that this would be the future site of the business incubator and SPSCC satellite campus.

“Ever since we purchased the land, we have been wanting to utilize it in a way that benefits our community,” Councilmember Cody Colt said. “Creating an innovative education service center is a way for us to invest in our citizens in multiple ways — providing a dedicated space for secondary education, technology training, and breaking down barriers local businesses face to continue strengthening our local economy.”

The implementation of these new services is combined with the preservation of the historic Yelm water tower. The 125-foot-tall decommissioned tower was put on the Washington Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation’s list of historic properties in 2017. A nonprofit organization, Save the Yelm Water Tower, has maintained the site and plans on revitalizing the tower with an array of LED lights with customizable colors for holidays and other special events. Save the Yelm Water Tower received an additional $300,000 in the capital budget to restore the structure.

“We are grateful for our legislators who worked with us to find the most appropriate funding source in the final budget adopted by the Legislature,” City Administrator Michael Grayum said. “[These] community projects are important for preserving Yelm’s past and building our future.”