Border board distributes more grant money for local needs in Malheur County

Tiffany Cruickshank, board board chair, said the latest batch of grants to businesses and agencies is needed more than ever because of the Covid pandemic. (The Enterprise/file)

ONTARIO – More child care could be coming and Ontario’s airport will advance major planning as the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board awarded $350,000 in grants to Malheur County government agencies and private businesses.

“With the current pandemic situation, our communities and businesses are struggling more than ever so we are excited to offer these opportunities,” said Tiffany Cruickshank, border board chair.

In this round of funding, the board awarded $100,000 to Wiggles & Giggles, a new childcare center in Ontario.

The Wiggles & Giggles grant is “earmarked for projects that remove barriers to getting a ready and able workforce into steady jobs, such as childcare and transportation. The $100,000 award will help expand local options and increase access to childcare beyond regular business hours,” the board said in announcing the funding.

The board also awarded a $200,000 grant for the Ontario Municipal Airport to update its master plan.

“The master plan is kind of a key document with working with the Federal Aviation Administration on capital projects funding. It is literally a map of the future growth,” said Adam Brown, Ontario city manager.

Brown said the grant award was “perfect timing.”

“Everything just kind of came together. It’s a great deal,” he said.

The Malheur County Planning Department received a $50,000 grant to plan more rural housing.

“I want to find a way to get more housing. We are going to come up with some things we can get into our comprehensive plan and county code to open up more opportunities,” said Planning Director Eric Evans.

Evans said housing “is very much needed in Malheur County right now.”

“It is the No. 1 thing people say about why they are buying in Idaho, because of the availability of housing,” said Evans.

Evans said the plan needs to avoid interfering with current farming.

“We have 4.4 million acres in Malheur County and it is all pretty much zoned farm or resource-use lands. I think there are lands out there that are probably not resource-use and could probably be developed,” said Evans.

Cruickshank said the grants funds are scheduled to be distributed this month.

The border board kicked off its loan and grant programs in February. With the new infusion of grant funds, the total investment from the board toward the border region is more than $650,000.

The seven-member board, made up of local residents, was created by the Legislature and its goal is to spark economic development along a 20-mile corridor of the border with Idaho that includes Malheur County.

Previous coverage:

Border board is ready to hand out money to boost local economy

Local board hands out nearly $300,000 to boost Malheur County economy

Border board seeks answer to Malheur County worker shortage but so far answers are elusive

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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