The Skagit County commissioners awarded about $3.5 million in economic development grants Monday, offering additional funding to 10 infrastructure projects in the county that create or retain family-wage jobs.
This year, the commissioners received a total of about $6.3 million across 15 funding requests from cities, towns and other public agencies, said interim County Administrator Trisha Logue.
A full $1 million of the available funding went to two rural fiber optic projects. SkagitNet, the applicant, plans to complete the county’s fiber backbone, expanding access to high speed internet to Concrete and Hamilton.
SkagitNet is a semi-governmental group jointly managed by the Port of Skagit and the Skagit Public Utility District.
Andrew Entrikin, manager of SkagitNet, said during his pitch to commissioners June 17 that modern commerce and education depend on internet access, and these areas are critically under-served.
La Conner, meanwhile, received the $500,000 it requested to complete funding for a new library.
The new library will be twice the size of the current one and offer high-speed internet, more computers and books, cultural exhibits, study areas, a play area for kids and a community meeting room, according to a news release from the La Conner Regional Library District.
“To have the support of the state, the Swinomish Tribe, and now the county, ... we couldn’t be happier,” said Susan Macek, director of the La Conner Library Foundation.
Now that the project is funded, construction is expected to start in 2020, with opening planned for late 2021.
The county also awarded $430,000 to Burlington, completing funding for the city’s East-West Connector Road project.
The project will construct a new road from South Burlington Boulevard at Costco Drive to South Walnut Street, opening up about 150,000 square feet of commercial property for development, Marv Pulst, the city’s Public Works Director, said during his pitch June 17.
The commissioners chose not to fund a $500,000 ask for Mount Vernon’s Library Commons project — a new combined library, parking garage and community center in the city.
They also chose not to grant a $500,000 request from Skagit Valley College for an early learning and childcare center project.