The Port of Whitman County commissioners approved the sale of one of its Pullman properties to a local company looking to expand.

Veterinary Medical Research & Development approached the port to purchase 8.3 acres in the Locust Grove Industrial Park at the intersection of North Grand Avenue and Pullman-Albion Road. The park is known informally as Pullman Industrial Park-West.

VMRD develops and manufactures veterinary diagnostic test kits and is currently located on Albion Drive. Don Knowles, chief security officer for VMRD, said the company plans to build a new facility on the Pullman Industrial Park-West lot while retaining its current building.

He said the company is expanding as it develops more types of testing supplies for animal health. Knowles said VMRD hopes to begin construction on the new facility as soon as it can.

The Port of Whitman County held a public hearing on the sale, but no member of the public commented.

Port Commissioner Kristine Meyer said this sale is “consistent with the port’s mission to develop property that provides jobs and economic development to our constituents.”

Commissioner Karl Webber agreed.

“My position on it is that we’ve got a company like VMRD that is willing and ready to move on their own, we should get out of their way and let them do it,” he said.

The port previously sold 23 acres of formerly industrial land near North Grand Avenue and Pullman-Albion Road to a development company to build a student housing complex called Aspen Heights.

On Wednesday, the commissioners also briefly discussed their goal of converting Washington State University’s historic steam plant on campus into a commercialization center.

The commissioners sent a letter to Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, asking for his support of the project. In the letter, the commissioners say the steam plant could become a place “where university faculty, economic development specialists and entrepreneurs can collaborate to patent innovative research concepts.”

“The ultimate goal is to create and retain high-quality, high-wage jobs across the Palouse,” the letter states.

WSU President Kirk Schulz sent a letter to the port expressing support for moving forward on this project.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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