The Wallowa County Board of Commissioners is still pursuing the purchase of land within the city of Wallowa to help develop an existing business, according to new County Commissioner Dan DeBoie who is very interested in creating jobs within the county.
Before DeBoie took office Jan. 1 the board of commissioners made an offer to purchase land near Wallowa for the same purpose, but had their offer turned down. That piece of land across Hwy. 82 from the Kirk Jones Memorial Baseball Field has since been sold.
DeBoie did not wish to report the name of the business wishing to expand nor the site now under consideration, but did say that the county has received preliminary approval for a $300,000 USDA grant to buy the land. He said that the second site has an existing building on it and that the business under consideration would rent half of the building at a lower rate than would be required on the open market.
He said the county is reluctant to get into the role of landlord, but is willing to do so if that is the only available option to stimulate the economy of Wallowa County.
Calling the proposal "a business incubator program," DeBoie said that the city of Wallowa and Wallowa County would have to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to outline how the program would work.
DeBoie said in response to a direct question that the land under consideration is not the old Bates Mill Property now owned by D. R. Johnson. He said that Johnson, the owner of Wallowa Forest Products, is not interested in selling his holdings at the northern edge of the city.
The tentative approval of the $300,000 USDA grant is contingent on a Congressional funding package still under consideration at the national level.