MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Citing the importance of agriculture to Skagit County and their specific charge to encourage economic development, Port of Skagit County commissioners today committed a quarter million dollars to Washington State University’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center.
The funds will support research being conducted at the center as well as the revitalization currently underway there.
“The WSU research center in Mount Vernon is a cornerstone to our Valley’s economic survival. Crops produced in the Skagit Valley provide over $245 million annually to our local economy,” said Port Commissioner Glenn Allen. “The future of the agricultural industry depends on its ability to adjust to changes over time.”
Dan Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, said the port has been a long-time supporter of the research and extension center at Mount Vernon. “The Port of Skagit County commissioners understand well the economic value of having a research and development organization working for local growers,” he said. “This gift helps WSU, area producers and the Skagit County economy.”
Working with the Northwest Agricultural Research Foundation (NARF), the port has provided $25,000 per year to agricultural research for the past decade.
In addition to awarding $100,000 to the research center revamp today, the commissioners also finalized a formal agreement with NARF to continue to provide $25,000 a year for the next six years, a total gift of $250,000.
“The Port of Skagit County, as one of the primary engines driving economic development in the county, has long recognized the value of research to the ongoing success of the ag industry,” Allen noted.
The research center revamp includes construction of modern, efficient work spaces for the five county agricultural and horticultural research and extension services currently housed in older, over-crowded facilities. Approximately $1.5 million of the $8 million total project cost will come from individuals, businesses and public entities in the Skagit Valley. A committee composed of local citizens and WSU representatives is spearheading the fundraising effort.
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