WA: Commerce Awards $2M to Encourage Innovative Business, Manufacturing Expansion Statewide | Trade and Industry Development

WA: Commerce Awards $2M to Encourage Innovative Business, Manufacturing Expansion Statewide

Apr 01, 2024
Second round of Evergreen Manufacturing grants anticipate creating up to 526 new jobs over three years.

The Washington Department of Commerce announced $2 million in grants to accelerate manufacturing job growth and economic opportunity across the state, with a focus on rural communities. Ten projects were awarded $200,000 each through the Evergreen Manufacturing grant program. Together, the projects anticipate supporting up to an estimated 526 jobs over the next three years.

“Innovation is a hallmark of each of Washington state’s key growth industries. From aerospace and clean energy to agriculture and timber tech, eyeing the future and investing in emerging technologies keeps us globally competitive,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong. “These new grants will help to advance expansion of existing projects with potential to spur new economic growth and good jobs in communities throughout the state.”

Grants to support specific business expansion projects were awarded to proposals submitted by local economic development groups, referred to as state Associate Development Organizations (ADOs). The nonprofit ADOs will administer the state funds for these projects:

  • Port of Whitman County on behalf of Alternative Energy Materials project
  • Alternative Energy Materials is developing a clean hydrogen production material and manufacturing technology to produce advanced ceramic electrolyzers that use renewable power to make carbon neutral fuels and fertilizers. Grant funding will enable an upgraded and expanded manufacturing space and a facility design for further expansion to scale the ceramic material production to enable larger equipment demonstrations.
  • Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County on behalf of Chinook Enterprises project
  • Chinook Enterprises is a 43-year old non-profit social enterprise that produces manufacturing and assembly solutions. Chinook follows an inclusive employment model which supports initiatives aimed at training, hiring, and retaining employees facing disabilities and other barriers. The project is a strategic expansion to meet increased demand by enhancing manufacturing capabilities, accommodating growth, and increasing the company’s workforce at its facility located at Skagit Valley College.
  • Kitsap Economic Development Alliance on behalf of Inventech Marine Solutions project
  • A developer of innovative marine technologies and marine vessels, Inventech’s project will support its expansion within the Port of Bremerton Industrial Park at a new advanced manufacturing facility to facilitate increased production and implementation of modern manufacturing practices and processes to aid in workflow to increase and expand product offerings.
  • Economic Development Alliance Snohomish County on behalf of Lafarge & Egge project
  • Established in Washington in 1962, Lafarge & Egge is a vertically integrated precision tubing and machined components company serving as an advanced manufacturer in the space, aerospace, medical, communications, defense, and emerging sectors, such as electric and hydrogen infrastructure and transportation. The project supports the company’s plan to scale the business two-fold by expanding the manufacturing space and workforce and to modernize its technology by implementing a more sustainable manufacturing process.
  • Grant County Economic Development Council on behalf of Twelve Benefit Corporation project
  • Twelve is a carbon-transformation company manufacturing an innovative electrochemical technology that uses electricity, water, and carbon dioxide to create chemicals, materials, and fuels, including a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Project funding will accelerate the company’s SAF facility deployment in Moses Lake, where the company broke ground in 2023.
  • Klickitat County Public Economic Development Authority on behalf of Zepher Flight Laboratories (ZFL) project
  • A HUBZone certified small business, Zepher Flight Labs is an uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) development and manufacturing firm developing sustainable autonomous vehicles with a hydrogen source for large-volume operations. Grant funding will enable setting up a manufacturing pilot project and R&D for a design-build package and process for scalable UAV manufacturing. 

A second category of funding was awarded to cluster organizations. Commerce supports an Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP) as an economic development strategy to strengthen industry ecosystems and accelerate economic development. Clusters are industry-led consortia consisting of industry leaders, entrepreneurs, government, academia and investors working together to drive innovation, pursue market opportunities, and identify and solve challenges that limit growth. Cluster organizations receiving grants are:

  • Consortium for Hydrogen and Renewably Generated E-fuels (CHARGE)
  • CHARGE brings leaders together from industry, state government, research institutions, and regional power utilities to form and execute demonstration and joint innovation projects that will usher in the green hydrogen and low-carbon e-fuel economy, supporting decarbonization across multiple industries. Funding will enable the development and deployment of clean tech-targeted, manufacturing support and workforce development and the execution of supply chain studies.
  • Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI)
  • GSI is the business support and economic development organization in Spokane County. Project partners include Northwest I-90 Manufacturing Alliance, West Valley School District, NEWESD101, Spokane Workforce Council, Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, Optimal Talent Dynamics, Wagstaff Inc., and Mackay Manufacturing. This grant will accelerate the launch of an industry-led manufacturing engineering program designed to allow students to obtain work-ready knowledge, skills, capabilities, and credentials through the West Valley High School Manufacturing Engineering program in Spokane Valley.
  • The Natural Resources Innovation Center (NRIC)
  • The NRIC is led by members of the business community across the natural resource industry spectrum in Clallam and Jefferson Counties. NRIC was created to identify and facilitate synergies across and between suppliers and users of natural resources – both aquatic and terrestrial - to create ecologically sustainable methods to produce energy, materials and products that promote alternatives to environmentally compromising products. Funding will facilitate the project goal to support Advanced Cross Laminated Timber research and manufacturing employment in Clallam and Jefferson Counties through certifications and market studies.
  • Tacoma Manufacturing Incubator (TMI)
  • The Tacoma Manufacturing Incubator works to reduce barriers in the manufacturing sector through workforce, industrial land supply and manufacturing spaces that allow businesses to scale under the same roof. The project focuses on developing small business manufacturing curriculum to increase capacity in local manufacturers through cohorts and will increase manufacturing space available at the incubator.

“This funding will help unlock opportunities to grow manufacturing on the North Olympic Peninsula through innovative, sustainable, value-added uses of forest resources,” said Ted Sturdevant, program director for grantee NRIC. “We’ll advance the use of timber grown and milled by the Makah Tribe, and reinforced with waste carbon fiber, to make advanced cross-laminated timber accessory dwelling units as a new housing option. Sturdevant added that the project will also inventory the region’s forest wastes that can be converted into valuable feedstock for manufacture of biochar, paper, and other products.

“Inventech Marine Solutions is extremely grateful to be selected by the Washington State Department of Commerce, with our nomination provided from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, for the Evergreen Manufacturing Growth Grant. Over the past five years, IMS has continued to show accelerated growth, giving way for more job opportunities in our local region,” said Micah Bowers, CEO of grantee Inventech Marine Solutions LLC. “With grant funding like this, our continued growth over the next five years will provide the community an additional 40-60 full time employment opportunities.” Bowers said the company sees its long-term home in Kitsap County, and is investing in a new modern 60,000-sqare-foot manufacturing facility at the Port of Bremerton.

Evergreen Manufacturing grants support the Building Economic Strength Through Manufacturing (BEST) Act passed by the Washington Legislature in 2021 to provide a framework for adding 300,000 new manufacturing jobs over the next 10 years. Commerce awarded 10 projects last April in the first round of the program.

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