FALLS CITY — Two projects that could improve the economic landscape in Falls City are progressing, albeit slowly.

City manager Mac Corthell said a proposal to place a new mill on the old mill lot near the falls in town “is moving at the speed of government.”

Small mill owner Rick Taylor approached city leaders last fall with a proposal to move his mill, now located on Airlie Road, to Falls City.

Corthell presented the preliminary details to the city council in November. The plan would locate the new mill on city-owned property, and Taylor and city staff are investigating possible grants to help redevelop the site, which is now used to store city public works vehicles.

Corthell said one option is Polk County economic development grant program or small business assistance grants from other sources that the city could look into.

Corthell said he’s been in communication with Taylor about the next steps.

“Rick and I have been emailing back and forth. I’m hoping he’ll present to the council in February to get an official blessing so we can start to go out for grants/loans,” Corthell said. “We’ve already identified several, but are waiting until the council gives it a blessing.”

The second development is re-establishing the former Little Luckiamute Clinic as an operating business.

In 2017, the owner of the then-Little Luckiamute Clinic donated the property, at 304 N. Main, to the city. Even though a committee was formed to explore options to occupy the building in 2018, it has remained vacant.

In December, Corthell and William Sullivan, community development and outreach coordinator, presented a plan to find a business to set up shop in the former clinic. It will cost money to repair the building to a standard for a new tenant, so the city is proposing to rehab it before seeking a tenant.

Corthell said he will need to know the cost of repairs before seeking grants to assist with repairs and business startup.

“The doctor clinic has been placed in William’s hands. He’s preparing an assessment on costs to get it up to habitability and time to recover funding in different scenarios,” Corthell said. “The county has shown some interest in a cooperative funding package, but we haven’t pitched anything formal yet until we know a bit more about what costs might be.”

He said neither project is officially at the launch stage yet, but he’s hopeful for movement on both soon.

Sullivan’s report to the Falls City City Council at its meeting on Monday said he would have a report on progress with the clinic property at the March meeting.

“Basically, both initiatives are approaching the tipping point where we’ll be able to say with some certainty that they’ll be happening or not … but right now they’re ‘in work,’” Corthell said.

Find more updates on the local economy and a listing of local businesses in the 2020 edition of Who’s Who in this edition of the I-O and online at

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