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Technology transfer program offers high-tech incentive for doing business in Tri-Cities, Washington

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September 16, 1997 Share This!

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — When Oregon Metallurgical Corporation, or Oremet, bought land for a new plant in Richland, Wash., the company got a high-tech bonus.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland home to thousands of technical staff and state-of-the-art scientific equipment offered Oremet 180 hours of free technical support. The Albany, Oregon-based titanium parts manufacturer will choose from a range of technical services including environmental and energy management consultation, prototype development, creation of advanced materials, and access to some of the world's most advanced equipment for computation and analysis.

"It's valuable for us on two fronts," said Jack Byrne, Oremet's vice president for manufacturing and engineering. "As we open our new plant, we expect to get value from utilizing the laboratory's advanced technologies and processes. And as we work with the laboratory, we'll get an idea of their capabilities for further work."

Byrne said the chance to locate within a few miles of Pacific Northwest and its resources was an important factor in choosing to build in Richland.

The high-tech deal isn't just for Oremet. Pacific Northwest has made a standing offer to any firm that makes a credible public decision to locate in eastern Washington's Tri-Cities area of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.

Pacific Northwest's Targeted Support Program provides three worker-hours of support for each expected permanent, full-time job that pays "family wages" of $26,000 per year or more. This new program is a part of Pacific Northwest's technology transfer program, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Each company also is eligible for 40 additional hours of laboratory support under the U.S. Department of Energy's Technical Assistance Program.

"It's a tremendous deal for everyone involved," says Gary Spanner of Pacific Northwest's Economic Development Office. "Community leaders competing to draw new businesses to the Tri-Cities get one more ace in their deck of incentives. Businesses locating in the Tri-Cities get a substantive opportunity to take advantage of our resources. We get a chance to show what we have to offer in terms of future research and development and to transfer technology and expertise developed at Pacific Northwest to the private sector. We also get to demonstrate our support for our community and the local economy."

Spanner says that the Tri-Cities already offers a skilled labor force, affordable power and land, availability of water and water treatment, access to first-class transportation and cities working to streamline the permitting process for new businesses. New Tri-Cities jobs could help re-employ some of the 6,000 skilled workers displaced in recent years when the Department of Energy reduced its local workforce.

Oremet will use an electron-beam furnace at its Richland plant to produce 20 million pounds of titanium each year. The strong, light-weight metal is used in such items as airplane parts, golf club heads and prosthetic knees. The $385 million plant will employ 60 people, with production starting in the second quarter of 1998.

Two other companies locating in the Tri-Cities also have received offers of support from Pacific Northwest. Precision Castparts of Portland plans to build a metal castings finishing plant in Richland, employing 75 workers. Meyer Plastics of Yakima, Wash., which employs 17 people, will move its operations to Richland at the end of 1997, hiring some local workers.

Interested companies should contact Gary Spanner, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, (509) 372-4296 or E-mail:

Tags: Energy, Operations, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Economic Development

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