FL: Local Technology Business Breaks Ground On New Facility & Begins Significant International Project
13 Jan, 2011
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High-Performance Magnetics (HPM), formerly known as Cable In Conduit Engineering Fabrication & Test (CICEFT), broke ground yesterday on its production facility located just north of the Compass Pointe building at the Tallahassee Regional Airport.
HPM is the vision of Mr. Tom Painter, an engineer at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL). The company is a manufacturing and management firm that specializes in providing high-quality superconducting magnet products.
The Tallahassee-based small business landed a large federal contract in March 2010 to be the US national supplier of specialized high-field magnet components to the international ITER project, a joint international research and development project aiming to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power – the same power which fuels our sun.
Fusion power is a carbon-free alternative energy source that if successful has the potential to largely decrease the use of fossil fuels as a primary provider of electricity.
ITER is made up of a seven-nation consortium including the United States, the Republic of Korea, the European Union, Japan, the Russian Federation, China and India. If successful, the ITER experiment will be a big step toward developing fusion technology as a viable commercial energy source.
HPM is a new high-tech company in Tallahassee, Florida using technology developed in large part at the NHMFL at Florida State University. Large magnetic fields are the only thing that can contain the super-hot fuel source, essentially a miniature sun inside the fusion reactor. The NHMFL is a leading developer world-wide of the technology required to produce these types of large magnetic fields.
"Breaking ground on our new facility is an important step for High Performance Magnetics in establishing the facilities required to produce these high-quality magnet components. But just as importantly, this marks Tallahassee, Florida as the US National supplier of these important superconducting components to the international ITER project," said Tom Painter, president of HPM. "We are very fortunate to be located next to the research cluster at Florida State University here with access to some the nation's and world's best and brightest magnet and materials researchers and technologists."
The company's new facility meets the unique requirements outlined in the contract, including two buildings set roughly 3,000 feet apart with a flat space between them, by utilizing a creative solution.
"The Flightline team is honored to have been able to assist HPM with developing their site at the Tallahassee Regional Airport. HPM's exciting field makes them a natural neighbor for the exciting advanced technology aviation businesses coming to the Tallahassee," said Danny Langston, CEO of Flightline Group.
The EDC assisted HPM through the formation of a collaborative team of industry, education and local government leaders, and located the airport site and designing facilities to support the project.
"We couldn't have done it without the developed base of intellectual property at the Magnet Lab and the assistance of the EDC, the City of Tallahassee, the Tallahassee Regional Airport and Flightline Group," said Painter.
GRC Architects, PBS&J and Ram Construction & Development were also instrumental in making the facility a reality.
"Helping to make the connections needed to assist a business based on the commercialization of technologies in our research and development facilities, and to play a role in creating jobs based in the targeted sector of magnet and material sciences is a perfect example of economic development," said Kim Williams, chairman of the EDC. "Watching this idea become a reality is a testament to the dedicated group who has lent their expertise and resources to Tom and his team."
To date, HPM has already resulted in the initial creation of five high-wage, high-tech jobs in Tallahassee. The initial five jobs pay an average wage twice that of the Tallahassee metropolitan statistical area. The company expects to add multiple technical positions in the next five months.
A critical element to bringing this project to Tallahassee was securing funding for the construction of the facilities. The City of Tallahassee provided a $350,000 short-term loan to Flightline which allowed this project to proceed.
"This project demonstrates the City's commitment to work with its partners in the public and private sector to help local businesses expand and create new jobs for our community, said Tallahassee Mayor Marks. "The City will continue to look for innovative ways that we can assist in developing new job opportunities for our citizens."