Ridgefield, Washington epitomizes small-town America with walkable main streets, historic landmarks, family-friendly neighborhoods and a high school known as the Spudders named in honor of the community’s potato-growing heritage. Ridgefield also sits on I-5 just 20 minutes north of Portland International Airport and has become one of the fastest growing communities in Southwest Washington.
CFM helped Ridgefield land a coveted $5.8 million federal BUILD grant last week to complete the $7.52 million extension of Pioneer Street, a transportation and economic development priority for Southwest Washington. The improvements will enhance vehicle safety and freight mobility as well as unlock 822 acres of underutilized employment land at Ridgefield Junction, which could attract an estimated $585 million in private investment. The City plans to partner with the Port of Ridgefield to deploy dark fiber in the area to promote “world-class, high-performance economic development”.
Clark College is preparing to build a north campus on land donated by the Boschma family, who left Holland in 1965 to settle in Ridgefield and start a dairy farm. Hank and Bernice Boschma took citizenship classes at Clark College.
“The Pioneer Street Extension Project will create more than 8,500 jobs, attract higher levels of private investment and provide access to Clark College’s new campus,” says Mayor Don Stose. “This is a great day for Ridgefield and opens up exciting opportunities for our future quality of life.” Half of Ridgefield’s working adults commute elsewhere in Clark County or to Portland for their jobs.
Stose gave credit to Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, as well as to persistent advocacy by CFM.
“Ridgefield is one of our state’s fastest-growing cities and we need infrastructure that can match this growth and allow more employment opportunities to come here, too,” Herrera Beutler says. “I worked to secure this critical funding so Ridgefield can safely accommodate more jobs, offer more educational resources and keep it a wonderful place to live as it grows in the coming years.”
“Workers and companies throughout our state rely on our infrastructure to move products to market and get to work,” according to Cantwell. “Ridgefield is one of the fastest-growing communities in Washington state, and these federal dollars will help the city improve its transportation infrastructure to attract new investment in the community, create new jobs and improve passenger vehicle safety and freight mobility.”
Since Congress shifted away from appropriation earmarks, submitting federal grants is now one of the few ways local communities can obtain federal funding for infrastructure projects. However, applications are complex and require weeks of staff time and coordination. In particular, DOT’s BUILD grants require exhaustingly complex 30-page applications, including a cost-benefit analysis and a variety of technical and narrative requirements.
CFM worked on behalf of the City of Ridgefield to lead its winning effort from beginning to end, starting with forming the scope of the project, then leading the drafting, editing and submission of its DOT application. Once the application was submitted, CFM worked in lockstep with the Washington congressional delegation on a coordinated advocacy campaign in support of the proposal. In addition to letters of support, the campaign included direct outreach to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao.
In the last three years, CFM has secured more than $144 million in competitive federal grants for its public clients. In addition to Ridgefield’s BUILD award, CFM has helped clients land a BUILD award in each of the last four rounds, including awards for the Port of Morrow ($19.4 million), City of Medford ($15.5 million) and Marion County ($8.1 million).
In addition to BUILD grants, CFM has secured grant funding from a broad range of competitive funding accounts that its full-time Washington, DC staff tracks through a solid network of contacts within the federal government. Grant-winning clients include Vancouver, Beaverton, Longview, Tigard, Salem-Keizer Transit, Battle Ground, Pendleton, Rogue Valley Transit, as well as multiple grants for Medford, Marion County, Ridgefield and Port of Morrow. As a result, CFM clients are averaging a 62:1 return on their investment to compete for federal grants.
“We do the work so our clients can make a solid case for funding, which allows their respective congressional delegations to advocate vigorously and successfully on their behalf,” says CFM Partner Joel Rubin, who leads the CFM federal affairs team. “It is a very competitive and complex process. Our job is to make the process work for our clients in the Pacific Northwest.”