A “green ribbon” panel of approximately two-dozen community stakeholders has formed to guide the development of the Southwest Washington Agricultural Business & Innovation Park in Tenino.

Scheduled to open next year, the park aims to focus on food-related, value-added manufacturing, processing and packaging by increasing local and regional food production, expanding and developing markets for agricultural goods, creating more than 150 living-wage jobs in the agricultural business sector, increasing value and revenue from food and farm businesses throughout the region, and identifying and addressing infrastructure and distribution needs related to the agriculture industry.

In December, the City of Tenino and the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) entered into a 15-year lease agreement to site the Park on an unused portion of the City’s wastewater treatment plant.

The Washington State Department of Commerce awarded the project $618,000 for site development, according to Thurston EDC officials, and the Port of Olympia has contributed $75,000 toward the park’s master planning. Thurston EDC officials also note that a $1.2 million capital budget request to construct the park’s first building was submitted and approved earlier this year.

The panel includes representatives of local cities, counties, educational institutions, farm bureaus, ports, ranches, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the Washington State Legislature, and other organizations.

According to the Thurston EDC, the panel will develop a governance model to guide the park’s use as it relates to infrastructure, legislative affairs, maintenance, professional management, and promotion.

The panel held its first meeting on Aug. 5 at the Quarry House in Tenino. Additional meetings will be held in coming months.