Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
Economic Development Office

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update

This monthly e-mailed update contains news, opportunities, upcoming events, and other information about Mid-Columbia tech businesses and the organizations that support them.

May 2016 Issue


Columbia Basin College Cyber Hawks Place Seventh in National Competition

The Cyber Hawks, a cyber-defense team from Columbia Basin College (CBC) in Pasco, WA, recently beat a dozen other college teams in a regional cybersecurity competition and headed to the national competition in San Antonio, TX on April 22, where they placed seventh out of 180 universities and colleges in the nation.  CBC launched its cybersecurity program four years ago and, partially funded with a Battelle donation of $118,000, is intended to meet growing demand for workers who can defend data and networks belonging to public agencies and private firms.  Learn more about the team.  Read about the 2016 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

Winner Crowned at Launch Weekend 2016

Compass DMS, a software company modernizing the world for small- to mid-size auto dealers, took first place at Launch Weekend 2016 in Richland, WA.  The company, created by siblings Justin Jones and Jennifer Olson, received an entrepreneur’s start-up kit including space at Fuse Coworking, legal support from Gravis Law, and programming support from Wildland.  Fourteen ideas were put forward during Launch Weekend, with eight teams of entrepreneurs pitching their ideas Sunday night to a panel of judges that included Gary Spanner, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; John Heaton, Pay Plus Benefits, Inc.; and Tony Umek, AKU LLC. 

  • Jeff Adamson and Melody Jones took second place with Storyboard, a digital storytelling app designed to preserve the wisdom and adventures of elder generations.

  • Mary Ann Stanko and her team, Shan Wo, Donavan Dell, Essence Briggs, and Ben Hunt took third place for Starlight Desert Tasting Tours, which offers personalized wine tasting tours.

Launch Weekend 2016 was organized by Fuse SPC and sponsored by JMK Tech.  Learn more about Launch Weekend.

Kennewick, Richland Rank Seventh in Best Places for STEM Grads in 2016

Kennewick and Richland, WA ranked seventh in the nation as a robust job market for college graduates who are entering the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, according to the personal financial website, Nerdwallet.  Ranking was based on STEM and research opportunities available as well as cost of living.  The article cites opportunities at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which employees about 4,400 staff; average salary of $92,635/year; and a monthly median rent of $859/month (as of 2014).  Learn more.

PBS Engineering and Environmental Acquires HDJ Design Group

PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc. has purchased the Portland, OR-based consulting firm HDJ Design Group.  PBS, also headquartered in Portland, has a dozen employees in its Richland-WA office.  In addition, HDJ Design group has 10 employees stationed in Walla Walla, WA and another 16 located in its Pasco, WA office.  With PBS specializing in geotechnical, environmental and industrial hygiene services, and HDJ providing civil engineering, planning and land surveying services, the combination of firms will allow expanded market share within the engineering industry.  Read more.

Alliance Brings Five-County Region Together for Business Recruitment

Four economic development groups have joined forces to collectively market a five-county region of Washington State.  The Eastern Washington Economic Development Alliance, formed in Fall 2015, is comprised of Adams County Development Council, Grant County Economic Development Council, Port of Pasco, and Yakima County Development Association: New Vision. “A cornerstone of our strategy is to improve the economic climate of the region to make it a top of mind location for food processing, manufacturing, and high-tech production and employment,” said Jonathan Smith, President of Yakima County Development Association.  Read more about this effort.

Tech Opportunities and Resources

Governor Inslee Signs Economic Gardening Bill; Program Applications Available

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation establishing an Economic Gardening Program in the Department of Commerce that will strengthen economic development in the state.   The Washington State Economic Gardening Program is designed to help second-stage growth companies take their businesses to the next level while enhancing connections to the community.  In this program, participating companies will learn to identify market trends, potential competitors, and unknown resources; map geographic areas for targeted marketing; and raise visibility in search engine results and increase web traffic.  To be eligible, companies must be for-profit, privately held businesses headquartered and operating in Washington state; have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue; employ 6 – 99 full-time equivalent employees, including the owner; and have demonstrated growth in revenue or employees in two of the last five years. Cost for businesses to participate is $750. Learn more about the Governor’s legislation Learn more about the Economic Gardening programApply.

DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office Issues Technology-to-Market Call for Proposals

The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has issued a Laboratory Call for Proposals for projects to increase engagement between bioenergy small businesses with high growth potential and the DOE national laboratories by providing access to laboratory assets.  Each project can receive up to $40,000 to support BETO’s goals, including production of biofuels compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels.  The national labs must submit the proposals, but small businesses may volunteer to be the business partner. Proposals are due July 31, 2016, with expected date of notification of selection by August 31.  For more information or to express interest in partnership with PNNL or other national laboratories, contact Corinne Drennan (509-372-6330).

Cascadia Cleantech Accelerator

CleanTech Alliance and Oregon BEST have partnered to launch the Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator, a 12-week program designed specifically for early-stage cleantech startups founded in the Pacific Northwest.  The accelerator will focus on business modeling, customer discovery and product development, go-to-market strategy, finance and funding, and creation of industry connections needed to succeed. Participants will receive mentorship, connections to networks, hands-on business and financing workshops, and customer discovery assistance.  No cost to apply, participation fees for selected companies are $775.  Deadline to apply is May 15, with selected companies notified by June 1.  Learn more and apply.

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center Webinars

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center is offering a series of recorded on-demand webinars related to the government contracting process.  These webinars include the following:

  • “Estimating and Bidding: Creating a System for Profitability, Part One and Part Two.”  Learn the fundamentals needed to begin the estimating process, which is essential for producing bids that are consistently profitable.  Part Two continues to lay the groundwork for the estimating process and covers building the estimate as well as common errors to avoid.

  • "Change Orders." This webinar is designed to help small businesses prepare for the unexpected and covers steps needed to propose a change to the contract administrator.

  • "Understanding the Solicitation and Proposal Development."  This webinar covers the review process, the bid-no bid decision, tools for preparing a bid response, proposal errors to avoid, and the final review process.

  • "Bid Readiness: Self Assessment."  This webinar is a good tool to help businesses identify potential weaknesses in their business strategy and gaps in their capabilities and readiness.

There is no cost to view these webinars.  Learn more about the listing of webinars offered and register.

Tech Dates and Deadlines

Raspberry Pi Users Group

May 5.  Confluent, a makerspace targeted to the arts and tech communities in Tri-Cities, WA, is offering Raspberry Pi Users Group meeting at Richland Public Library on May 5 at 6 pm.  Confluent, located in Richland, offers memberships starting at $25 per month.  RSVP.  Learn more about Confluent.

Marketing to the Federal Government

May 10.   Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center is offering “Marketing to the Federal Government” on May 10 from 9 – 10:30 am at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce in Kennewick, WA.  Participants will learn how to identify government customers, analyze current and future needs, select and develop the right tools to assist with marketing efforts, and learn best practices that achieve marketing success.  Attendees will be invited to return at a later date with a rough draft capability statement to receive feedback from federal government marketplace experts.  No cost to attend.  Register.

Walla Walla Business Summit

May 13.   The fourth annual Walla Walla Business Summit will take place May 13 from 7:45 am – 5:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott Walla Walla.  This summit provides an opportunity for local and regional business leaders to learn more about the broader northwest business community and develop ongoing connections and relationships.  Cost to attend is $129 for Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce members, $159 for non-members.  Learn more.  Purchase tickets.

Element 8 Presentation at Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative

May 17.  Element 8 (E8, formerly Northwest Energy Angels), a member organization of private, accredited angel investors, will give a presentation to the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative on May 17 at 9 am at the Tri-City Development Council facility in Kennewick, WA.   On that date, E8 will meet with various clean technology companies as well as prospective clean technology investors. If you are interested in meeting with E8 or would like an introduction, please contact Gary Spanner, 509-372-4296.  Learn more about E8.

Yakima Government Contracting Essentials Workshop

June 16.   Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center is offering “Yakima Government Contracting Essentials Workshop” on June 16 from 10 am – noon at the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce in Yakima, WA.  This workshop will provide a comprehensive overview of how to do business with and market to local, state, and federal government agencies and prime contractors.  Participants will learn how to classify their products or services, how to register in the correct databases, the different small business programs and classifications, and types of solicitations and how to respond.  No cost to attend.  Register.

CleanTech Showcase 2016

June 27.   CleanTech Showcase 2016 is being held June 27, 8 am – 5 pm at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, WA.  Participants will have the opportunity to network with more than 350 industry leaders, investors, media, and policy makers; hear from renowned speakers from research, investing, and industry; and learn about the cleantech industry’s latest innovations.   Cost is $250 by May 30 and $265 thereafter.  Learn more.  Register.

PNNL This Month

Unexpected Discovery Leads to a Better Battery

An unexpected discovery by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has led to a rechargeable battery that’s as inexpensive as conventional car batteries, but has a much higher energy density.  The new battery could become a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative for storing renewable energy and supporting the power grid.  Learn more.

Firms Awarded Contract to Design and Construct New PNNL Collaboration Center

Fowler General Construction of Richland, WA, and TVA Architects Inc. of Portland, OR, were awarded the contract to design and construct the new Collaboration Center at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  The 24,000 square-foot, $9.8 million facility will be designed to host larger scientific meetings and increase collaboration among researchers and other scientific institutions.  The facility is expected to be completed in Fall 2017.  More about the Collaboration Center.

Got News?

We invite your contributions! We will consider items that fit the mission of this publication, including your tech-related news, awards, and notices of upcoming events. Please send text and photos to or call (509) 371-6017.

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update is published by the Economic Development Office at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Each month, we send you an e-mail message, giving you the link of news, tips, awards, upcoming events, and other information about local technology-based businesses and organizations that support them. With business and community partners, our goal is to build and diversify the Tri-Cities economy—adding skilled jobs in primary-sector industries that bring in outside dollars. Currently, more than 1,100 tech-related businesses, investors, and economic development stakeholders subscribe to the newsletter, mostly in the Mid-Columbia area and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. This newsletter (RL-P00-009) supports DOE-Richland's vision for the future of the Hanford Site and surrounding area through the creation of research opportunities, new industries, and new business clusters