• Message from Don Kersey
  • Technology and Innovation Hub Designation Sought
  • Meet Commissioner Stroud Kunkle
  • News From Around our Region
  • In Case You Missed It
Message from Don Kersey, Executive Director
Don Kersey
This past quarter has seen, yet again, another period of incredible events and growth in our region. Further to the news you’ll read below, we have included an in-depth story on a significant Workforce Development initiative that could brand our Columbia Basin as the next Technology and Innovation Hub at the Federal level. This is huge as it would help fund and align the workforce pipeline needed for our growing clean energy sector. We’ve also included an interview with Port Commissioner and current President Stroud Kunkle. A Vietnam-era aviator, he shares his thoughts on our region’s current trajectory in aerospace and industry. Meanwhile, this past quarter has otherwise seen it all from a spectacular air show event last month, aerospace and next generation energy continuing to make headlines, and some rewarding milestones achieved from regional development partners. 
The Moses Lake Airshow over Father’s Day weekend was a resounding success. Intended as a tourism attraction, attendance was up 40% from last year with 80% of enthusiasts driving from outside of Moses Lake; some of these loyal fans driving hundreds of miles. We’ve compiled some of our favorite photos from this event, be sure to take a look. A tremendous debt of gratitude is owed to the volunteer committee who tirelessly developed, worked, and elevated this event, along with the partnered participants from the United States Armed Forces to civilian industry giants like Boeing and Eviation. You all have our applause. 
Click to see Moses Lake Airshow Photo Album. Photo credits: Port of Moses Lake
In aerospace, you’ll read about how Twelve, a developer of sustainable jet fuel, announced plans to construct a production facility here in Moses Lake. On Tuesday July 11th, they broke ground on that facility. Another incredible addition to our region, next generation aviation is really taking off. In our growing renewable energy sector, we congratulate Sila for making CNBC’s top 50 Disruptors List while Group14 began construction of the world’s largest commercial factory for advanced silicon battery materials. To further summarize the enormity of it all, Richard Hanover, our Director of Business Development, and I, had the pleasure of interviewing with the Columbia Basin Herald in May on the benefits of being a port district. The time long-hoped for is happening now. Our thanks to Columbia Basin Herald for this opportunity.
As for milestones, we’d like to send out congratulations to a business development partner, the Downtown Moses Lake Association, as they recently celebrated 30 years in our community. Congratulations are also in order for Grant PUD who recently announced that their decades-long project of providing fiber optic cable to most of Grant County is at 90% completion on their customer base, and 60% complete on miles. This tremendous infrastructure investment is expected to be completed next year.
Thank you for tuning in to our newsletter. Enjoy the rest of your summer. 
Technology and Innovation Hub Designation Sought
By: POML Staff Writer
Dr. Bryce Humpherys
Dr. Bryce Humpherys, Vice President of Learning and Student Success at Big Bend Community College (BBCC), is optimistic about recent announcements of next generation battery and renewable energy projects either moving into or expanding in the Columbia Basin. He believes they build on a history of long-range strategic planning and federal investments dating back to the Columbia Basin Irrigation project and the Grand Coulee Dam. Our region’s irrigation water, along with renewable and low-cost electricity, has led to substantial growth in agricultural and manufacturing industries. 

Humpherys said, “There's this legacy and this history of our region being tied to power generation and affordable power. It's a natural next step to look at renewable energy and batteries playing a key role in the next chapter of the economic development history of the region.”
With all this new growth, the Columbia Basin has an opportunity to seek federal-level designation and funding as a Technology and Innovation Hub that could not only bolster our newest industry sector, but also develop an ecosystem that supports clean energy technology similar to what we see in the tech industry of Silicon Valley.  The Tech and Innovation Hub designation, and the money that comes with it, could foster a similar climate in the Columbia Basin and Humpherys, along with a consortium of education, economic development, government, and industry partners (new and existing), are going after it.  

“To successfully compete for the Tech Hub designation, there's an expectation that an area could be globally competitive over the next decade. And what would make us globally competitive would be the clean energy, specifically in the area of battery development,” Humpherys said. 
As part of the CHIPS Act passed last year, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the United States Department of Commerce, is tasked with establishing twenty regional technology and innovation hubs across the United States. Each Tech Hub must focus on a specific technology and a geographic region that could be globally competitive in advancing the development of that technology. The Tech Hubs also have a focus of lifting underserved communities. Additional criteria include involvement of area industries, how the partnering organizations will work together, how local equity and diversity needs will be addressed, the current composition and capacity of our regional workforce, innovative “lab to market” approaches, and the Tech Hub’s impact on the economic and national security of the United States. The Consortium is working to prepare responses to all the criteria now. 
As for how equity and diversity issues will be addressed, along with the current composition of our regional workforce, poverty in the Columbia Basin remains high with 30.5% living below 150% of the poverty level while 25% of adults 25 years and older do not have a high school diploma. To address this, while also addressing regional workforce needs, BBCC and area school districts are making plans to create learning centers in the communities of Othello, Mattawa, and Quincy that could operate as branch campuses of CB Tech and/or BBCC. The learning centers will serve both high school students and adult students.  Humpherys said, “We believe that the best way to provide education and employment opportunities that will lift people out of poverty, is to engage families, not just individuals. Many individuals are place-bound due to factors related to poverty, family responsibilities, and work commitments. Driving to Moses Lake three or four days a week is pretty difficult. For these individuals, it is imperative that we bring training and education opportunities to them in their community or a nearby one.” 
The Learning Centers will meet a variety of educational needs. College students will be able to complete full degree programs at the Learning Centers. Through dual enrollment programs and close collaboration with local school districts, high school students will have the opportunity to earn a post-secondary industry credential when they complete their high school diploma. Adults enrolled in English Language Acquisition (ELA) and adult high school completion programs will also be introduced to technical programs that lead to high-demand careers. The Learning Centers will bring higher education opportunities to underserved adults in communities across the Columbia Basin. “This vision creates a pathway for those that are learning English and a way to complete a high school diploma and post-secondary credential vital for entrance into high demand, high-wage careers,” Humpherys said. 

In addition to an equitable workforce development strategy, the Tech Hub would also support the growth and development of businesses and facilitate the ability to take technological breakthroughs from the lab, to scale, and then to the marketplace. Humpherys is working with partners to bring resources and expertise from across the state into the Columbia Basin to support the needs of businesses in the clean energy sector. 

The Tech Hub application process works in two phases. Under Phase One, our region competes to be one of the 20 designated Tech Hubs in the United States. If selected, then the Tech Hub partners are eligible to prepare an application to compete for additional funding in Phase Two that can be used for the implementation of activities around: 1) workforce development; 2) business and entrepreneur development; 3) technology maturation; 4) and infrastructure expansion. The deadline for Phase One is August 15, 2023. The EDA will initiate the competition for Phase Two implementation funding sometime later this fall. 

Humpherys said, “The Columbia Basin is well poised to be the leader in renewable energy, and we are working hard to coordinate public and private organizations for the ongoing growth and development of this technology sector in the region. There's just so much potential in the Columbia Basin and so much opportunity. It's exciting.” 

Commitments are still being sought in support of this consortium. For more information, contact Dr. Bryce Humpherys at: bryceh@bigbend.edu / 509-693-2055. 
Meet Stroud Kunkle, POML Commissioner
By: POML Staff Writer
President Stroud Kunkle, POML Commissioner – District 2

We sat down with Commissioner Stroud Kunkle, with the Port Commission since 2012, to learn more about his life and career, and his insights as a commissioner along the evolution of the Port District during his tenure. From a fascinating and honorable early adult career to the present day, he remains incredibly committed to service outside himself, with an educational and experienced background fitting of his current leadership role at the Port of Moses Lake. 

Born and raised in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles from Philadelphia, Kunkle attended the University of Idaho for five semesters before taking a break to work in the steel mills. It was then he was drafted into the United States Army, and after testing exceptionally well, sent to Officer Candidate School to become a helicopter pilot for the Vietnam War. 

Flying for the 2/17 Cavalry attached the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army, Kunkle flew an armed Bell UH-1 Iroquois, aka “Huey”, helicopter alongside other gunship helicopters including Cobra/Loach teams. Kunkle said, “We did a lot of nap-of-the-earth flying. For us, flying in formation was two of us going the same direction within a half mile of each other.” 

Nap-of-the-earth is a type of low-altitude flight course. The term was coined during the Vietnam war for these tactics of surprise (and survival) necessary to avoid visual and radar detection. It also meant he and the squadron were often relied upon when high-profile guests visited their base. Kunkle said, “Every time Bob Hope came, we had to miss the show because we were flying security detail.”
Between Officer Candidate School and deployment, Kunkle married Mary, an accountant, in 1970. They later welcomed their son, Aaron, shortly before Captain Kunkle returned to civilian life after five and a half years of service. Back to the University of Idaho, he completed his BS in Business, majoring in accounting. After college, he interviewed with many companies but the one that attracted his attention was Morris Jones and Palmer, whose partners had also graduated from the University of Idaho and had smaller offices in rural Eastern Washington. Kunkle said, “I really wanted to work in a small town and small business atmosphere. However, there wasn’t much to Moses Lake back in the mid 1970’s so Mary and I came with the understanding we’d be here for two years and then leave.” 
Bell UH-1 Iroquois, aka “Huey” helicopter. Kunkle flew an armed version of this model aircraft in the Vietnam War.

Photo courtesy of: Museum of Flight.
We could say the rest is history. 

Soon after his daughter Amanda was born as the family settled in to stay. From 1977 through 2011, Kunkle was the outside accountant for the Port of Moses Lake. Along the way, he became a partner with Sutter Kunkle and Thompson, and eventually bought out the remaining interest. A true believer in giving back, he also served on the Board of Directors for the Moses Lake School District, was the Director of Community Services of Moses Lake, Director of the Moses Lake Business Association, Past President of the Rotary Club of Moses Lake, and a Trustee of the Big Bend Community College Foundation. 

Working with the Port all those years, however, is what motivated Kunkle to run for a commission seat in 2012. By then he was not only their accountant, but a big fan of the leadership, military clients, economic development, and direction of the Port. “When I first started (accounting), Clyde Owen was the manager and then Dave Bailey, so I’d already been working with them. It was natural. I just knew it was something I wanted to do,” he said. 

In his 12th year as a commissioner now, some of the most rewarding aspects of his role included participating in recruitment the Port had been engaged in. “We were doing a lot of marketing when I first started – out beating the bushes for tenants not just for the Port but for the whole area. We would go to Europe and Asia, being gone a couple weeks at a time basically cold calling. Now businesses come to us and we can be selective on whether the fit is good for our region. We’re looking at those willing to employ our workforce, while also developing our service district. It’s important criteria.” 

Of the notoriety Moses Lake has achieved on the international stage over the decades, he said, “When we went to the Paris airshow one year it was amazing the response we received when people learned where we were from. A lot of international press and publications were covering testing in Moses Lake. People were really impressed with what we had going on here. It was rather like a well-kept secret location but not anymore.”  
The future of the Port District keeps getting brighter. More recently, the Port made international news with the advancement and testing of electric and hydrogen-fueled passenger planes. Challenged over the decades with the inability to retain commercial air service from Grant County International Airport due to low demand, he said this offers hope, saying, “Once electric and hydrogen are in the air, we can expect to see more affordable regional air service. Then it’s a different game with easier, quieter, and shorter flights.”
Aerospace isn’t the only subject making headlines. Recent announcements of battery and next-generation energy companies moving to our region offer a tremendous amount of promise for our economy, workforce, and national energy independence. Kunkle said, “Some of these companies - they’re looking at generating power and I think it makes a lot of sense for everyone. It’s a very big deal for us in the short and long term.” 

According to Kunkle, along with great partnerships with government, education, economic development entities, and industry, it also helps to have a strong team within the Port of Moses Lake. “The staff at the Port is just terrific. They’re settled, experienced, and that really makes a difference. It makes everything a little bit easier and it’s a group you don’t have to second guess.” 

Meanwhile, his daughter Amanda, following in her parents’ footsteps as an accountant herself, has since bought out interest in Sutter Kunkle and Thompson, where Kunkle remains as an employee with more time to focus on Port District initiatives, Rotary Club of Moses Lake, and his Board Member role for Community Services of Moses Lake. 

Thank you for your service, Mr. Kunkle, and for everything that you do for the Port District and our community!
News From Around our Region
30 years: Downtown Moses Lake Association celebrates pearl anniversary
Columbia Basin Herald
June 27, 2023: MOSES LAKE – Music, shoppers, bean bag tossers and fun took over downtown Moses Lake near Sinkiuse Square on Saturday as the Downtown Moses Lake Association celebrated three decades of serving the community – an anniversary ordinarily symbolized with a pearl if it were a marriage.
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
FIBERED UP: Grant Co. fiber expansion nears finish line
Columbia Basin Herald
June 26, 2023: EPHRATA — A decades-long project to provide fiber optic cable, and fiber access, to most Grant County locations is almost done. Terry McKenzie, senior manager of wholesale fiber for the Grant County PUD, said the buildout is scheduled for completion in 2024

“We’re about 90-ish (percent) complete with the project customer base, with the customer count,” McKenzie said. “We’re about 60-ish (percent) complete on miles. The very last year and a half is going to be a lot of miles, getting very little customers, because we waited to do the rural (areas) at the end.”
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
Twelve announces plans to scale production of sustainable aviation fuel made from CO2 in Washington State
Washington State Department of Commerce
June 19, 2023: PARIS AIR SHOW, LE BOURGET, FRANCE — Carbon transformation company Twelve and Washington Governor Jay Inslee today announced plans to scale the production of E-Jet® fuel, Twelve’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from CO2 and renewable energy, with a commercial-scale production facility in Moses Lake, WA. The announcement was made during a press conference held at the Washington State exhibit at the 2023 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France.
Photo courtesy: Washington State Department of Commerce
Job opportunities outweigh political differences when climate tech comes to rural communities
June 15, 2023: Inside a cavernous building in Cashmere, Wash., workers pressed thousands of tons of local apples and pears into Tree Top juices every year. But after more than four decades, operations came to a halt in 2008 thanks to a shortage of juice-grade fruit and competition from China.
Photo courtesy: Group14
Moses Lake exchanges gifts with sister city
Columbia Basin Herald
June 15, 2023: MOSES LAKE — The City of Moses Lake is giving a pair of landscape prints from a local artist to the city of Yonezawa, Japan, in response to Yonezawa’s gift of a tapestry to Moses Lake last year.

“In a show of gratitude for that, we’ve decided to present them with these two prints from local artist Kim Matthews Wheaton that show the agriculture in the area and some of the local geology, which is obviously unique to our area,” said Council Member Dustin Swartz at the start of a regular meeting of the Moses Lake City Council on Tuesday.
Moses Lake City Council Member Dustin Swartz holds up a pair of landscape paintings by local artist Kim Matthews Wheaton that the city is giving to the City of Yonezawa in Japan as a gift, part of the long sister-city relationship the two towns have.

Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
Learning to fly: Former refugee earns scholarship for Big Bend flight training.
Columbia Basin Herald
June 13 2023: MOSES LAKE, WA - Victoire Wilondja is learning to fly because he wants to do something big with his life.

“The freedom of dreaming big,” said Wilondja as he sat in the Flight Training Center at Big Bend Community College. “Something that I never thought I could do.”
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
‘Big Bend Changed that for me’
Columbia Basin Herald
May 25, 2023: Moses Lake - The community once again showed its commitment to education Saturday with a full turnout at Big Bend Community College Foundation’s 22nd annual Cellarbration! For Education banquet and auction. The event, which brought in about 225 people, raised $167,000 to put toward scholarships for Big Bend Community College students, according to college spokesman Matt Killebrew.
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
Examining the benefits of a local port district
Columbia Basin Herald
May 21, 2023: MOSES LAKE, WA - Don Kersey, executive director of the Port of Moses Lakes, sat in his corner office overlooking the Grant County International Airport thinking about a line he heard a lot growing up here.

“We always knew that Moses Lake was going to grow, going to pop. It was always that’ll be next year and the next five years, but it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen,” Kersey said. “And we all sound like broken records.”
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
Orders for Eviation Alice all-electric aircraft now valued at over US$4 billion
May 11, 2023: Eviation on May 11 announced that it has received an order for 30 of its all-electric commuter aircraft, known as Alice, from U.K.-based regional aircraft lessor, MONTE — pushing the value of orders for the Alice past US$4 billion.

The Arlington, Washington-based manufacturer had announced in early November 2022 that the order book for the Alice surpassed the $2 billion mark. Just six months later, the value of orders for the nine-passenger electric aircraft has doubled.
Photo courtesy: Eviation
Sila Recognized on the CNBC Disruptor 50 List
Sila Nanotechnologies
May 9, 2023: As the electric vehicle fast becomes the future for major automakers, critical elements including lithium are poised to be the equivalent of new oils.

Elon Musk has been saying for years that if there’s any business a smart entrepreneur should get into, it’s lithium refining. He didn’t wait too long to take the advice himself: The Tesla CEO just broke ground on his own lithium refining plant in Texas this week.
Photo courtesy: Sila Nanotechnologies
Judging chili
Columbia Basin Herald
April 20, 2023: MOSES LAKE, WA – Rich Mueller has some advice for anyone looking to judge a chili cookoff.

“I’m going to put away any predispositions,” said Mueller, who runs the Grant County International Airport for the Port of Moses Lake. “I see some chilis over there that would not normally be my go-to chilis, but I’m just going to forget all that right now.”
Photo courtesy: Columbia Basin Herald
Group14 Begins Construction of World’s Largest Commercial Factory for Advanced Silicon Battery Materials
April 4, 2023: WOODINVILLE, WA - Group14 Technologies, a global manufacturer and supplier of advanced silicon battery technology, today announced the commencement of construction of a second commercial-scale U.S. Battery Active Materials (BAM-2) factory in Moses Lake, WA, in support of domestic efforts to advance the electric vehicle (EV) market.
Photo courtesy: Group 14
New silicon anodes could help EV batteries go farther, charge faster
Sila Nanotechnologies
April 4, 2023: (Reuters) - A new generation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries that hold more energy, achieve longer driving range and charge more quickly should begin reaching customers by mid-decade, powered by new silicon-based electrodes that are slated to go into production next year in central Washington state.
Photo courtesy: Sila Nanotechnologies
In Case You Missed It
Turn volume up!
10Tanker Firefighting
Our heartfelt thanks to all firefighters! Check out this video of a 10Tanker off to work battling region wildfires. Launching from Grant County International Airport, this aircraft can reach into four states to stop wildfires in their tracks! Our thanks to Rich Mueller, GCIA Director, for these incredible shots.

7810 Andrews N.E. Suite 200
Moses Lake, WA 98837
Phone: 509.762.5363