The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is planning to make changes to its grant program including festivals and events - the Partnership in Economic Development Program. 

The port recently granted $10,000 to support the Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival. 

Commissioner JC Baldwin questioned that investment and thinks the Port should focus on funding community events that need the backing. 

“That’s where I’d rather see the dollars go, is working with smaller communities and municipalities to help them with their economic development issues,” said Baldwin. 

Port Authority commissioners have agreed to refocus the grant program during a future strategic planning meeting. 

Port CEO Jim Kuntz thinks the funding should be targeted toward events the average resident will have access to, unlike the festival in Lake Chelan. 

"I think it's something maybe we should have in our consciousness, that we approve an event where there's a lot of citizens, we represent that are just not going to write a check for $170 to go to the event."   

A four-day pass to the Wine and Jazz Festival is $170. 

Port Authority staff are also making language changes to the criteria which will require applicants to show their event will attract attendees from outside of Chelan and Douglas counties. 

In addition, the language will be modified to state that the Port's contribution will be to sustain the event and will be directed at covering deficits, not increasing profits.  

That change comes after Commissioner Richard DeRock said it would not be appropriate to use taxpayer dollars collected by the Port on events that generate revenue for the organizers. 

Eleven percent of the Port’s budget comes from property taxes it collects in Chelan and Douglas counties 

Further, the Port will look at refocusing the grant program away from tourism. 

The Port has included tourism in its criteria in the past, but Kuntz said there was no reason to prop up tourism when the cities and counties are now directing major tax dollars for the cause. 

"I don't see a need for the Port to be this major funder of tourism events when we've got, already, agencies in the two-county area that are collecting $11 million in tourism taxes," said Kuntz. "They can reinvest in those events if they want."  

Currently, the Port Authority's Partnership in Economic Development Program calls for it to make “strategic economic development investments in rural communities in Chelan and Douglas Counties."  

The program allows for donations between $5,000 and $20,000 to nonprofit groups that “provide sustainable living wage jobs and stimulate private sector capital investment.” 

Port commissioners agreed to make the changes at their most recent public meeting last Tuesday. 

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