Columbia County

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Discover Columbia County

Follow the fast track to Columbia County and you’ll find out eastern Washington’s economic engine is humming along. Dayton, the county seat, is all about connections: railroads, highways, rivers, telecommunications and people.

The Snake River, our northern border, connects Columbia County with the world via barge access to ports along the Columbia River and in Portland; highway 12 connects trucking companies with major transportation routes such as Interstates 82 and 84; Blue Mountain Railroad connects Dayton with the hump yards of two major railroads. High speed internet connects the citizens with world-wide commuting possibilities; and the Blue Mountains, the southern border, connects people in the region with fantastic outdoor recreation opportunities.

Most of all, the spirit of the people in the community can connect your business with success. Make your connection with Columbia County and find out how much they have to offer.

Population (2017)

Population decreased by 80 over the last 5 years and is projected to decrease by 67 over the next 5 years.

Jobs (2017)

Jobs grew by 14 over the last 5 years and are projected to grow by 142 over the next 5 years.

Median Income (2016)

Median household income is $13.2K below the national median household income of $55.3K.

Median Household Income


Health Services

Dayton General Hospital was established in 1960 with the vision and mission of providing high quality healthcare to the local communities. We are a Public Hospital District with Critical Access Hospital, Level V Trauma Center, and Level III Cardiac and Stroke Center designations.

Emergency Medical Services

Our primary service areas include Dayton, Waitsburg, Starbuck, and surrounding areas. More commonly known as Columbia County Health System, we are comprised of Columbia Family Clinic, Waitsburg Clinic, Booker Rest Home, and Dayton General Hospital.

Our Rural Health Clinics are here for primary care and behavior health needs 6 days a week. We are staffed with 3 primary care medical doctors, a board certified emergency medicine doctor, a board certified pediatrician, and 3 mid-level family practice providers.  Our Emergency Department is staffed with our employed providers as well as partner physicians.

Civil Services

Police Services

Columbia County provides contractual police services for the City of Dayton and the town of Starbuck, and offers enhanced 911 service county-wide.

Fire Department

Columbia County Fire District 3 serves Dayton, Starbuck, and all rural areas as a volunteer department.

Income By Location



The Walla Walla Regional Airport, 28 miles southwest of Dayton, is an integral and necessary part of transportation and commerce. Small, but valuable, airstrips near town contribute to business needs.

Rail Freight

Blue Mountain Railroad connects with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads.

Public Transit

Columbia County Public Transportation offers community-wide services as a means to reduce the number of cars in street and improve air quality.

Most Common Jobs


Port of Columbia

The Port of Columbia serves as the ADO (Associate Development Organization) for Columbia County, they are tasked with supporting not only Port tenant businesses, but all businesses in Columbia County. The Port employs a full-time economic development coordinator to assist businesses with planning, financing, succession planning, trainings, and much more. They will provide referrals for needs that are better met by area professionals.


Columbia County has had a stable economy due to employment activities primarily centered in agriculture and government. Employment growth of approximately one hundred new jobs is expected with the opening of Columbia Pulp. Recent work has been started to reestablish food processing in the county with the new Blue Mountain Station project. This project will serve as a food processing business incubator, blending sustainable, locally grown produce with food and organic food production.


Columbia County is becoming a tourist destination for its historic preservation appeal and, in turn, is expanding its accommodation and food services industry, with a ten year average annual growth rate of 1.1 percent. This segment is expected to continue growing in upcoming years. In addition to tourist attractions, manufacturing is growing as well, following the Eastern Washington growth trend, but with a smaller, more persistent expansion.

Ski Bluewood, the local skiing facility, is an important source of tourism and seasonal employment for residents across the region.