The Port of Olympia recently made a significant cash investment in some of Thurston County’s smallest cities as part of its Small Cities Program.

At its March 25 meeting, the port’s commissioners awarded $10,000 each to the cities of Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino, and Yelm. The money is for community and economic development investments.

The Small Cities Program was launched in 2010 and provides gap funding for community and economic development initiatives in incorporated Thurston County cities with fewer than 15,000 residents, according to a statement from the port. The cities will use the money to fund the following projects:

  • Bucoda will purchase event equipment to expand its annual haunted house, as well as to expand an outdoor event space.
  • Rainier will continue to renovate and preserve its historic Rainier School and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church for event and activity space rentals.
  • Tenino will continue construction of a shaded pavilion for bicyclists. The pavilion will include water-bottle filling stations, seating, bicycle racks, and repair facilities.
  • Yelm will purchase emergency notification message boards to alert residents and passing motorists of emergencies or planned events impacting the community.

This is the ninth year the port has awarded funding through the Small Cities Program. To be eligible for funding, cities must submit applications detailing the proposed projects, which are then reviewed by the Board of Directors of the Port Economic Development and port staff, and are then forwarded to the commission for review and approval.

In the past, money from the port has been used to help pay for the development of a community center in Yelm, installation of visitor signs in Tenino, enhancements to sidewalks in Rainier, and renovation of the Oddfellows building in Bucoda.