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

(1958 – 2019)

A Look Back on 50 Years at the Port

1958

Port of Benton Established

Voters approved the new Port District in November 1958. Port of Benton became the 46th port in Washington.
1959

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.
1961

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.
1963

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.
1965

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.
1970

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.
1972

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.
1975

Benton City Industrial Park Created

The Port purchased 26 acres in Benton City to boost public and private-sector commercial development.
1985

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.
1988

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.
1989

Second Incubator Building Opened in Prosser

The Port completed the construction of an incubator building at the Prosser Industrial Park.
1996

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.
1998

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.
2000

Vintner’s Village Site Purchased

The Port purchased 32 acres in Prosser near its Wine & Food Park for a bonded warehouse for local wineries, which became Vintner’s Village in 2003 – a collocated winery and retail business park.
2006

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 Vintner’s Village, Crow Butte Park and a biomass gasification project.
2007

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.
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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.
2008

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