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Our History

Port of Benton was established in 1958 as a special purpose district under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 53. We were chartered to “promote industrial development and transportation, including general aviation, in Benton County.”

The Port was created following the transfer of ownership of Richland from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the citizens. Previously, Richland was the property of the federal government as part of a World War II secret mission called the Manhattan Project.

The property that was originally designated as the Port’s District was 290 acres known as Camp Hanford. The land was transferred from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Port in 1959. Today, that property is known as the Technology and Business Campus in Richland.

Port of Benton was designated as a Nuclear Port in 1965 by the U.S. Coast Guard and is one of only a handful of ports in the nation authorized to handle radioactive materials.

Port of Benton History Documents

A Look Back on 65 Years at the Port


Port of Benton Established

Voters approved the new Port District in November 1958. Port of Benton became the 46th port in Washington.

Technology & Business Campus Established

The Port began to develop the 290-acre site (formerly called the Richland Industrial Park) north of Richland City limits as its first property to support economic development.

Prosser Airport Obtained

The City of Prosser transferred the Prosser Airport, formerly the George O. Beardsley Field, to the Port.

Richland Airport Acquired

The federal government transferred the Richland Airport, formerly Atomic Energy Field, to the Port.

Prosser Wine & Food Park Created

The Port acquired 70 acres in Prosser and established the Prosser Industrial Park, later called the Prosser Wine & Food Park, to attract value-added ag industries.

Port of Benton Designated a Nuclear Port

The U.S. Coast Guard declaration allows the Port to handle nuclear waste, spent fuel and other radioactive materials transported by truck, rail, air or water.

Richland Industrial Park Multipurpose Building Finished

The Port completed construction of the multipurpose facility, designed to house small-scale manufacturing, storage facilities, offices and laboratories.

Barge Unloading Facility Completed

The Port’s dock and barge facility is leased to the U.S. Navy and supports offloading or onloading of decommissioned reactor compartments and other water-borne cargo.

Benton City Industrial Park Created

The Port purchased 26 acres in Benton City to boost public and private-sector commercial development.

Port Business Incubator Building Opened

The Port’s incubator building helps launch small businesses and industries and is known today as the Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL) in Richland.

Prosser Incubator Building Opened

The Port opened its second incubator building at the Prosser Airport, which housed the Chukar Cherry Company until the company relocated to a new facility on the Airport property in 2019.

Second Incubator Building Opened in Prosser

The Port completed the construction of an incubator building at the Prosser Industrial Park.

Hanford 3000 Area Transferred to Port

With this transfer by the U.S. Department of Energy, Port of Benton became the first U.S. port to acquire surplus 71.5 acres of government property under the 1994 Defense Authorization Act to diversify the local economy.

Hanford 1100 Area Surplus Land Allocated to Port

The 760-acre transfer from the U.S. Department of Energy included a major warehouse, short line rail and railroad facilities to support local industries in reaching markets across the Pacific Northwest.

Vintners Village Site Purchased

The Port purchased 32 acres in Prosser near its Wine & Food Park for a bonded warehouse for local wineries, which became Vintners Village in 2003 – a collocated winery and retail business park.

Port Honored as Port of the Year

Washington Public Ports Association awarded Port of Benton as its “Port of the Year” in part for its economic development efforts, including Vintners Village, Crow Butte Park and a biomass gasification project.

Crow Butte Park Transferred to Port

The Corps of Engineers transferred a 20-year lease for the park to the Port after Washington state was unable to continue operations due to budget constraints.
TC Research District logo

Innovation Partnership Zone Designated

Washington state designated the combined Richland Innovation Center and Technology & Business Campus as an Innovation Partnership Zone today known as the Tri-Cities Research District.

Port Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

For five decades and counting, the Port continues to focus on developing projects and adding public amenities that enhance the local economy and quality of life.
Port of Benton 50 Years logo


Prosser's Vineyard Pavilion Dedicated

The Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center was working to secure funding for a structure to showcase the importance of Dr. Walter Clore and the Washington wine industry. The Port purchased the site and designed the Pavilion with the future Walter Clore Center in mind.

USS Triton Sail Park Dedicated

A dedication ceremony for the USS Triton Sail Park was held on November 10, 2011. to welcome the decommissioned Naval submarine to Richland. Triton was the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe underwater, following the path of famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Triton operated on dual nuclear reactors and was a key contributor of the Atomic Age.


Washington State University Wine Science Center Site Dedication

A dedication ceremony was held on October 12, 2012 at the future site of the Washington State University Tri-Cities Wine Science Center. The Port donated three acres of land for this project.

Richland Innovation Center Groundbreaking

The Port hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on November 6, 2012 for the Richland Innovation Center. The ceremony was the first step towards upgrading the site to a modern development.


Zirkle Fruit Company Opens Facility in Prosser Wine & Food Park

The new $4.5 million, 51,000 square-foot crush facility is next to Zirkle's fruit-packaging and storage facility at Port of Benton's Prosser Wine & Food Park.

Richland Airport Hosts Antique Aircraft Club

Nearly 30 antique, classic and experimental planes touched down at Richland Airport, serving as the first stop of the 2013 Northwest Air Tour.


Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center Opens in Prosser

Named after the "Father of the Washington Wine Industry", Walter Clore, the center will highlight regional grape-growing, local wines and will serve as an event space operated by the Walter Clore Center nonprofit.

Port Moves Into New Administration Building

After remodel of a former office building, the Port moved into its new administration building. The updated facility provides ample meeting and office space for an efficient and productive workflow for the Port and its tenants.


Department of Energy Land Transfer Completed

The Port received 760 acres of former Hanford Site land TRIDEC received from the Department of Energy. The property is part of 1,641 acres situated to attract private-sector investment.


Crow Butte Park Undergoes Renovations

The Port of Benton completed extensive renovations throughout the Park, including updating restrooms, marina and boat launch areas, electrical upgrades and a new ADA friendly playground.

Chukar Cherries Tasting Room Opens in Prosser Wine & Food Park

Chukar Cherries' tasting room opened in the Port's Prosser Wine & Food Park.


Development Building Planned for Vintners Village

The Port announced plans to construct a $2 million development building in Prosser's Vintners Village.

Port Dedicates Manhattan Project National Historical Park Visitor Center

The Port of Benton joined the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy at the Port-owned Technology Enterprise Center to dedicate the Park's visitor center.


City of Prosser Presents Port with Appreciation Award

The City of Prosser presented the Port with an award of appreciation for 60 years as a valued transportation and economic development partner in Prosser and throughout Benton County.

Port Earns Project of the Year Award

The Washington Airport Management Association selected Port of Benton as its Project of the Year Award for two significant improvement projects at the Richland Airport.

The Port Celebrates 60 Years

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the Port of Benton!


SIGN Fracture Care Intl. Purchases Development Building

SIGN Fracture Care International purchased a development building from the Port to expand its operations.

Port Recognized as Contributor of the Year

The Prosser Economic Development Association selected Port of Benton as its Contributor of the Year for its valuable contributions in support of economic development in Prosser.


Pandemic Closes Crow Butte Park for the Season

The Port closed Crow Butte Park during the 2020 season, per state orders, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Port's essential workforce took advantage of the closure to upgrade the irrigation and sewer systems, repair the caretaker's house and trim overgrown trees and shrubs.


WSU-TC, Port Partner to Continue Clore Center Mission

A Washington State University Tri-Cities and Port of Benton partnership set the stage for wine and culinary education at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser to continue. Under the agreement, the university will also lead the curatorial direction and display of Clore's historical wine archive at the center as part of its Washington Wine History Initiative.

Port Completed Prosser Airport Improvement Project

Crews constructed nine hangar sites and rehabilitated the pavement on runways, taxi lanes and aprons to better serve the Prosser region's business aviation customers and support-based aircraft.

Richland Airport Received Federal Aviation Administration Grant

Port of Benton received $3.15 million in Federal Aviation Administration funding through the Airport Improvement Program for the Richland Airport's electrical, lighting and guidance system upgrades. Design is currently underway, and construction is planned to begin in the summer of 2022.


Initial Rail Crossings Reconstructed

Crews completed the reconstruction of the Van Giesen/State Route 224 rail crossing in August and Swift Blvd./Cemetery access rail crossing in October to enhance safety. Crews worked around the clock for approximately 3 ½ days as the intersections were closed to replace both rail crossings, add concrete panels, new rail ties and repave. Replacement of the crossings at SR 240 / Horn Rapids Road, Saint Street and Airport Way are planned for 2024.

Electrical Replacement Project Finished at Richland Airport

Crews completed a monthslong electrical replacement project at the Richland Airport in November. Work began in July and required strategic planning of the phased runway and taxiway closures to minimize disruptions. The port obtained a $3.15 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to fully fund replacing the airport’s entire electrical system.


White Bluffs STEM Center Phase 1 Completed

The port completed construction on the future home for the Hanford History Project, located near the USS Triton Sail Park in north Richland. The facility will serve as the first phase of the White Bluffs STEM Center, and collocate archives and artifacts related to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. This investment aligns with the Port’s commitment to regional STEM tourism and brings visitors to our community.

Port Earns Project of the Year and Community Engagement Awards

The port completed construction on the future home for the Hanford History Project, located near the USS Triton Sail Park in north Richland. The facility will serve as the first phase of the White Bluffs STEM Center, and collocate archives and artifacts related to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The Washington Airport Management Association awarded the port’s Richland Airport electrical replacement project as its 2023 Project of the Year. In May, the Washington Public Ports Association honored the port as its 2023 Community Engagement Award for the Van Giesen Street / State Route 224 railroad crossing replacement project. 

Street Renamed in Honor of Community Leader

At a community event in July, Port of Benton renamed 11th Street near the Port of Benton offices to Ferguson Street to recognize the late Robert L. Ferguson’s vision, leadership, dedication and advocacy for the Tri-Cities.

Closed, but still awesome.

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