James’ Round Up, Westport Edition
The Fresnel Lens at the Westport Maritime Museum

The Fresnel Lens at the Westport Maritime Museum

By James Messer

Membership Coordinator

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.

Since my last post I have visited about 50 more businesses in Grays Harbor and during my visit to Westport I stopped at Half-Moon Bay Bar & Grill to see what was new. I see a lot happening with the restaurant from an expansion of the gift shop offering new Hawaiian jewelry to newly replaced patio furniture with comfortable seats perfect for watching over the Westport Marina. Did I mention that they have delicious clam chowder?

Brook Priest of Half-Moon Bay Bar & Grill tasked me with taking some time to learn the history of Westport by touring the Grays Harbor Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. I took her advice. Did you know that Westport is home to the tallest lighthouse in Washington State? I hiked up all 135 steps to the top of the lighthouse, learning about the history along the way, and found a great view of Westport, the surrounding forest, and the ocean at the top. The staff was very friendly and I highly recommend taking the tour yourself.


I found the Maritime Museum to be full of interesting art work and a lot of history of Westport. The Fresnel lens alone is reason enough to stop by the Maritime Museum and take a look. The lens was taken from the old Destruction Island Lighthouse and reassembled in Westport. Wedding season is coming and the Maritime museum offers there Fresnel lens exhibit as a possible location for your big day and Monica Cowles Photography, one of our latest members with Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., would be a great person to hire to capture every moment of your wedding day.

As well as visiting Westport I also made some pit stops in Aberdeen & Hoquiam, including Pat Farmer at Domino’s pizza who introduced me to the new handmade pan pizza and the new deals that they are offering. I also stopped by Habitat for Humanity and if you are looking for volunteer work they are getting ready to move to their new location on Simpson Avenue in Hoquiam and would appreciate any volunteer help if you have time.

Please remember to support your local economy and Shop the Harbor First this weekend.

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James’ Round-Up


Our new membership coordinator has been hitting the street, meeting and greeting our members, and he’s got tidbits to share from the people he has seen. This is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing series of James’ Round-Ups.

I have been visiting members of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. and I thought it would be nice to share some of the new and exciting things that I have been seeing on the Harbor. I noticed that the Aberdeen Museum of History is using their facility during the down hours to provide a building for our local seniors to get together and do some fun exercise activities. Game Freaks Video Games has recently opened a new location on Sumner Avenue with a new gaming center big enough to host parties for your child’s next birthday. If you need a place to stay, the Senior Sunset Times newspaper has been offering an ad to stay at the EconoLodge in Hoquiam.

Cindy DeBard of Harbor Shoes on Heron Street introduced me to a line of running shoe that she recently got into her store geared towards men, and I encourage you to stop by and check out the different designs available. I also checked out the new customized Toms shoes that Ray Ericks at Waugh’s has to offer; support your teams, high schools, community colleges and universities, by wearing their colors. Support your local economy and Shop the Harbor First!

Make sure to tell them that you saw it at James’ Round-Up on Blog Grays Harbor!

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GGHI board votes to support Crude by Rail


Last month the board of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. invited Imperium Renewables to talk with us about their project to bring Crude by Rail to the Port of Grays Harbor. We had heard a great deal of speculation about what these projects would mean to Grays Harbor – and the predictions ran the gamut from 100 jobs to almost certain environmental ruination of the estuary. We wanted more information about what the projects entailed and what it meant for our Harbor. The following is what we have learned.

Imperium, along with Westway Terminals and U.S. Development, plans to transfer rail car shipments of crude oil from North Dakota to tankers in the Port. Those tankers will transport the oil to refineries on the West Coast, as American law mandates U.S. oil be refined here.

North Dakota oil is expected to last for decades. That is why the three companies are looking to build millions of dollars of infrastructure at the Port of Grays Harbor. The tanks they build will be used for the storage of crude oil, not for its processing.

Both Imperium and Westway have years of experience working with biodiesel and bulk liquid in much the same way they are proposing to do with crude oil, in many cases complying with the very same laws that apply to crude with their current products. We also learned that Crude by Rail is not a new business model. There are Crude by Rail operations in the Port of Tacoma and along the Columbia River that have been operating with solid safety records.

We learned Imperium has received over 60 vessels and thousands of railcars with zero incidents. It and Westway have been doing business successfully and safely, and we have no reason to think it will be any different here. Oil, railroads and maritime shipping are three of the most highly federally-regulated activities. We feel those regulations adequately protect our Harbor, and we know the companies operate in good faith.

We believe that Crude by Rail is compatible with tourism, commercial fishing, and shellfish aquaculture. We would not support these projects if we felt that they put the Harbor’s estuary at risk. We don’t have to “choose” between environmental safety and industrial development, and to imply that there is a trade-off is a false choice.

We also looked at the potential economic benefits to the Harbor.

Millions of dollars in infrastructure will be invested in the Port, which will return sales and B&O taxes to our cities and county, and the investment will create hundreds of short-term construction jobs. The multiplier effect for each of the 90 or so new long-term industrial jobs – not to mention new jobs for pilots and longshoremen – could be 2.5 indirect jobs or higher.

The investment at the Port will provide lasting returns in other ways. First, it will help diversify its product base. Second, it will help the Port attract interest from other businesses, furthering its ability to bring industry and jobs to the Harbor.

Growth at the Port, no matter the cargo, will lead to increased train traffic. The Port has seen 400 percent growth in the past five years, and we anticipate that growth, and train traffic, will continue. Currently, the existing traffic is already a stressor for our communities. But we have reasons to be encouraged that we are going to see short and long term solutions come into play. Already the Port, the City of Aberdeen and Genesee & Wyoming, the company that now owns the track, have made progress in identifying potential short and long term solutions to alleviate access issues at the Olympic Gateway Mall.

Genesee & Wyoming is the largest short-line railroad in North America, and it is in their best interest to invest in and develop our rail line to its maximum freight potential. And, with their partnership with the Port and Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., they will help our area attract even more business investment to further use the railroad line.

When the board heard that, not only could we feel good about Crude by Rail on its own merits of increasing employment and investment, but we could feel good that it would bring additional attention, investment and improvement to Grays Harbor. It was a rare triple win, for the community, for the local businesses and for the future.

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Jan. 24 “Wiring the Ocean” at GHC

I received the following email from Grays Harbor College. This is an event that has business ramification, folks. Think of all the work to do and all the ways we can supply the project and workers! To get to it:

We have a unique opportunity later this month when noted University of Washington oceanographer Dr. John Delaney will be on the Grays Harbor College campus and in the community speaking about his team’s efforts to create a cable network of deep-ocean sensors off the Harbor and along the Pacific Coast.

Continue Reading »

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Five Threats to your Business on 1/22

Join Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. for our monthly Business Forum, featuring speaker Reid Bates of Express Employment Professionals. He will discuss the five greatest threats to your business in the new year, and how you can avoid them.

How do you avoid Inability to Innovate, or Regulatory Nightmares, or the Cost of Reckless Hiring? Reid will give you strategies to help your business be nimble.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Where: Aberdeen Elks, 1712 S Boone Street, Aberdeen.

Reservations are required by Friday, Jan. 18: Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Leaders Circle members can send an attendee for free, call for details. Call 532-1924.

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Learn how you can save $$$ on energy!
Our new program

Our new program

We are hosting an event to let you know how you can save money on saving money — with rebates for energy efficiency upgrades! Come to our offices at 506 Duffy Street at 7 a.m. or noon on Friday, Jan. 11 to find out and have some refreshments.

We have a new, limited-time program with Washington State University that allows us, partnering with the Grays Harbor PUD, to do high-tech energy evaluations that let you know exactly how much money you can save when you take measures to be more efficient.

This program benefits residents and businesses alike — but it is for a limited time only. So please come to our event or call Rick at 532-7888 to learn more.

And if you are a contractor and you’d like to become a part of this market, come or call to find out how you can grow your business!

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Save on energy with GGHI
Rick Jackson

Rick Jackson

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. is launching Greater Grays Harbor Energy, a new program that can save your business and home money, and will create work for contractors in Grays Harbor County. This program, funded by a grant from Washington State University and held in partnership with the Grays Harbor PUD, can help you make the investment in a more energy efficient business or home. But this is a limited offer – the program will only run for six months and draw from a limited source of funding.

For your business or home

We were able to purchase a thermal imaging camera that, with the PUD’s blower door, can give you a comprehensive energy efficiency audit for the low price of $95 (market price can top $300). And if you make energy upgrades to your building with a PUD-approved contractor, you will get a rebate for the full price of that audit. The PUD will continue to do free walkthroughs to evaluate your structure’s energy usage, but the new equipment gives you the most precise overview of what your home needs.

You can trust the PUD to give you an objective audit. And with the help of our energy specialist, Rick Jackson, you will have help navigating both the contractors who are qualified to do the work to improve your building and the rebates that are available from different sources for improving lighting, HVAC systems, water heaters and weatherization.

You can get back up to $1,500 of the cost of the upgrades through our program, and you will continue to save month after month in your energy bills.


Greater Grays Harbor Energy can plug you into some of the same rebates that GGHI member Sandy Dunsire of Dunsire Printing used when he upgraded his lighting. GGHI member Wilson Electric helped him reduce the cost of his monthly electricity bill by up to $150 a month by upgrading his lighting to newer fluorescent bulbs. The work Wilson Electric did to install the new bulbs and reflectors was partially subsidized by PUD rebates. But it wasn’t just worth it for the money, Dunsire said.

“It’s a lot brighter in here now, and the customers love it,” Dunsire said.

If you are a contractor

If you are a GGHI member and a contractor that can do energy efficiency work, you can get work if you are approved by the PUD. Jackson can connect you with the certifications you need to be on their list so that you can take advantage of the work that will become available as people get energy audits. Jackson is there to help you navigate the process – so take advantage of his knowledge! We want this program to spur LOCAL job creation, and want there to be plenty of options for residential and commercial customers to choose from.

Limited Time & Funds

This program is run on a first-come, first-serve basis with the available grant funds. In order to get in on saving money, you need to act fast. Jackson will only be with us through June, and we have a limited number of rebates available. Call Jackson today to save money by saving energy.



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Posted in Business planning, Economic Development, Greening the Harbor
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Dress for Success: Grays Harbor

Leonard Barnes

Don’t you think that Halloween is like the “warm-up” to what is coming in the way of holidays over the next few months – a somewhat hectic time where family and business obligations seem to go up against each other?  No wonder Halloween gives you a night to pretend to be something or someone you are not – and your only obligations are to look different than you usually do and to give out candy.

Some people choose to dress up as vampires or witches and others dress up in really clever, creative costumes, but when my kids were small, my daughters always leaned toward being a “princess” or “cheerleader,” and my sons seemed to choose to be some sort of superhero, whether it was a “pro athlete” or “Batman.”  And you know, when my daughters put on that princess or cheerleader costume, it was not like they really changed any of their behavior and “acted” like princesses or cheerleaders.  The fancy dress or colorful skirt was basically an affirmation of something they already knew about themselves – that they were Daddy’s beautiful girls with a lot to offer the world, and they deserved at least a sparkly tiara or a set of pom poms out of the deal.

Well, I feel that for most of us living on the Harbor, sometimes we seem to think that if we looked in a mirror, we would see ourselves in a princess or cheerleader costume (or a superhero costume for most of us guys), and we think we look silly or out of place.  Like we are imagining a look that can’t possibly suit us and makes us look ridiculous.  How can we possibly be a leader in tourism when we have dilapidated and old buildings in our downtowns?  How can we possibly be a leader in business when our traditional industries have been struggling?  How can we count and be important if we don’t have an Outback/Target/Costco?

People, I am here to say that we are a serious force to be reckoned with, and the proof of that was at the Leaders Banquet on October 12.

In the non-profit arena, we proved we are definitely contenders, as the number two per capita “Relay for Life” in the universe and the national award-winning NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor took the stage.

We proved we are a place of serious corporate investment when Hanner Enterprises and Aberdeen Goodwill accepted awards.

We proved that we know hometown with homegrown businesses like the Smith’s Harbor Drug and Gifts, and John Yonich’s D&R Theatre and Amore restaurant.  Yonich was compelled to come back here—his home—with the drive to help revitalize it.  He is like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, changing out rags for a princess dress in a piece of our community.

As for tourism, Seabrook has raised the bar with its new town, and is definitely an entity that saw opportunity and beauty, and is taking advantage of it by creating value for our county. And then there is Voss Acres Produce Market, which is not only serving its community with reasonably-priced, fresh food, but is getting people to stop in little old Copalis Crossing on the way to the beach to pick fresh vegetables, get eggs from their chickens, and learn a little bit about the history of the area.

These are just eight businesses out of hundreds, even thousands, to work for something, to use the area’s resources, and to succeed.  We all have that same potential for success, we just need to believe in it, be a “cheerleader” for it, and put those twirly dresses and tiaras or those capes and helmets on and get to work.  You never know, you may be “boooo-tifully” rewarded:  Bippity-bobbity-boo!  Go Team Go!  Shazam!

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Posted in Economic Development, Events, Uncategorized
Business Forum is Aug. 28!

John Nacht

Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. will present a Business Forum featuring speaker John Nacht, risk manager for the state Employment Security Department on August 28.

Nacht will discuss how you can reduce your business costs by better managing risk. Nacht, a retired Navy pilot, started as Lewis County’s risk manager in 1992. He has worked as a risk manager for the state since 1998 and has been a board member for Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA). His responsibilities include liability, emergency management, public security and records and public disclosure.

This presentation is made possible by a partnership with WorkSource Grays Harbor.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 28.

Where: Aberdeen Elks, 1712 S Boone Street, Aberdeen.

Reservations are required by Friday, August 24: Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Leaders Circle members can send an attendee for free, call for details. Call 532-1924 or email info@graysharbor.org.

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Paper mill purchased, will reopen as Harbor Paper

We were thrilled to be the messenger for the following:

Harbor Paper LLC today announced the acquisition of the former Grays Harbor Paper Mill located in Hoquiam, Washington. The new owners expect to take possession of the facility immediately and begin producing paper within 45 days.

Harbor Paper LLC will specialize in manufacturing uncoated, free-sheet recycled paper using renewable energy sources. The business focus will be on providing high-quality paper at reasonable prices to customers throughout the western United States.

“It’s hard to overstate what a milestone it is to have another shuttered mill reopen on the Harbor,” said Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. ” This was a complex deal that took a great deal of work. We were able to make it happen thanks to the many partners that were able to come together, including Grays Harbor PUD, the City of Hoquiam, the state Department of Commerce, and WorkSource. We also owe special thanks to the receiver, Richard Hooper of Pivotal Solutions whose efforts were instrumental in bringing this deal to fruition,” added Gibbs.

Another key player in the resurrection of the mill was John Begley, former President of Grays Harbor Paper. Begley worked diligently for over a year to find the right organization to acquire the mill, resume operations, and breathe new life into the 83-year-old facility.

“We are excited about bringing this opportunity to the area,” commented Begley, now President and CEO of Harbor Paper. “The jobs created by Harbor Paper will benefit many individuals and their families. We look forward to creating a great work environment where each employee is rewarded for his or her role in making Harbor Paper a success and a company we can all be proud of.”

Applications for employment at the new facility will be accepted exclusively on Harbor Paper’s website at www.harborpaper.com. The local WorkSource office located at 511 W. Heron St. in Aberdeen will conduct the post application testing.

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