$10 million in federal dollars to benefit Southwest Washington projects

Public institutions and nonprofit organizations in Southwest Washington are set to receive $10 million in federal funding for rural health care, youth workforce programs and infrastructure.

Senator Patty Murray, who is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, met with the recipients in a virtual roundtable Thursday to discuss the Congressional funding she secured in the 2022 government spending program.

“These funds are going to make a big difference for community projects in Southwest Washington,” Murray said.

The Vancouver project on Southeast First Street, which is currently under construction, will receive $2.5 million in funding. Federal funds would connect growing areas of Vancouver by upgrading the roadway, providing additional traffic and turning lanes for vehicles, and building sidewalks and a bike path. The project will also create a transportation facility that will advance the city’s carbon neutral goals.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said the corridor has an accident rate 8% higher than state averages. There are nearly 100 accidents recorded along the route, half of which result in serious injuries, she added.

“Completing this project would reduce that accident rate,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

The status of the project can be viewed on the city’s public works website.

Workforce Southwest Washington, an employee training and recruiting organization, received $1.5 million for its SummerWorks youth program. Miriam Halliday, CEO of the organization, said the program helps young people living in poverty who are struggling to complete their education connect with local businesses for summer jobs. The program leads to higher graduation rates and increases job readiness for the future, she said.

“For many, a summer job can be a critical and positive turning point in helping (young adults) gain confidence, skills, and career direction,” Halliday said.

The Port of Longview is set to invest its allocated $2.5 million in its Industrial Rail Corridor Expansion Project. In Klickitat County, the Cascade AIDS Project will use $390,000 to expand health and behavioral care for LGBTQ people in the area, and Klickitat Valley Health will upgrade its outdated utility systems.

These projects were part of various statewide efforts to receive direct funding.

In April 2021, the office began asking groups in Washington to submit requests for credits. Overall, $116 million has been distributed to local initiatives in Washington to benefit underserved communities, with a particular focus on childcare, affordable housing, health care and infrastructure, according to a Murray’s office spokesperson.

The Congress-directed spending came alongside the passage of Appropriation Bill 2022 after a decade of prohibition. It was capped at 1% of total discretionary spending for the fiscal year, generating about $15 billion, the spokesperson said.

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