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New Growth in Prosser

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PROSSER, Wash. - The City of Prosser is experiencing some unusual new growth, and city leaders credit part of it to the number of new wineries.

City Administrators along with the Prosser Economic Development Association say new commercial construction in Prosser has gone up considerably in the last five years to a point where residential construction is having to keep up.

In the first quarter of 2009, there have been 81 building permits, that's up from 61 in 2008.  The city credits nearly all of the growth to wineries.

David Forsyth is the wine maker and General Manager of Mercer Estates, a new winery that's been open for about three weeks.  He feels success for his business won't just be in the wine, but in the location. "Prosser is centrally located between Spokane, Portland and Seattle and that's a big reason for bringing people over," said Forsyth.

The number of wineries has sky-rocketed in Prosser, which the city says is a big reason for all the growth.  Between 2000 and 2004, new construction growth averaged about $5 million a year. In 2005, it jumped to 8 million.  2006 was a busy year topping out at $22 million. It went back down to $10 million in 2007, then in 2008 it jumped again to just over $18 million dollars a year.

And for a city of about four square miles and only 5,000 people, residential construction is having to catch up.

"We're not growing too fast at this point. It's sustainable what we're doing now. We're able to meet the demand of our infrastructure," said Prosser Mayor Paul Warden.

And according to the Prosser Economic Development Association, the hotel and motel industry is also booming in Prosser, bringing in more money last year than it ever has in the past.