Spring 2020 Issue
What's New?
As increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases are cropping up in the Tri-Cities, the outbreak is significantly impacting companies and individuals throughout our community. Those entities and companies located within the Tri-Cities Research District are no exception. Congress has passed a massive $2.2 trillion aid package in response to President Trump’s National State of Emergency.
Here in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee has also declared a statewide State of Emergency, and closed all K-12 schools, restaurants (except for takeout and drive-throughs), and all entertainment and meeting venues until the end of April. It appears that those restrictions will be extended for weeks or even months. The impact on workers and employers has already been significant with unemployment claims in Benton and Franklin Counties for the week ending March 11, up 924 percent from the previous week. Story continues ...
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be the first national laboratory in the United States to be served by Verizon Wireless 5G ultra wideband technology. The partnership will allow PNNL researchers to expand and transform many primary laboratory missions, including cybersecurity, the protection of grid infrastructure, and the science behind autonomous systems. With the 5G network on site, researchers will be able to test how faster speed and increased bandwidth can be used to enhance chemistry and Earth sciences to the practical day-to-day needs of first responders.
On May 7, 2019, Washington governor, Jay Inslee signed the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) that commits Washington to creating an electricity supply that's free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Richland-based Energy Northwest, a utility agency comprised of 27 public utility districts and municipalities, responded by commissioning a new study by San Francisco-based Energy + Environmental Economics ( E3 ), which was released in early February by  Energy Northwest . E3 calculated energy capacity needs in the Pacific Northwest over the next several decades and analyzed a suite of clean, reliable, and affordable energy resources available to meet that demand. The E3 study concluded that multiple low-carbon electricity sources will be needed in the Pacific Northwest to maintain energy reliability and achieve a carbon-free system by the CETA-imposed deadline of 2045. Further, the study identified that the mix should include some combination of current and new renewable and clean resources along with greater conservation and efficiency. E3 examined the value of creating additional solar and wind facilities, as well as extending operation of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant beyond its current license period of 2043. Story continues ...
Innoget, the Open Innovation and Science Network, is distributing open research and development opportunities specifically related to Covid-19. While the organization distributes regular research and development opportunities, their new portal focuses on aggregating and disseminating innovation needs and offers directly related to the Covid-19 response.
Development Update
Artist rendering of PNNL’s new $90M Energy Sciences Capability Building now under construction.
While the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic delayed or scrapped formal groundbreaking ceremonies, construction is underway on a new, 140,000-square-foot research and collaboration facility at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The new laboratory will allow PNNL to co-locate its cutting-edge capabilities in chemistry, materials, and computing to accelerate research in energy sciences. The new facility is designed to facilitate collaboration, and idea sharing with colleagues from industry, other national laboratories and academia, including Washington State University and the University of Washington. The new building is scheduled to open in 2021. Story continues ...
WSU Tri-Cities chancellor Sandra Haynes addressesing guests at the new academic building groundbreaking ceremony.
On March 12, WSU Tri-Cities broke ground on a new 40,000-square-foot, $30 million academic building on the Tri-Cities campus. The new building will be located across from the Consolidated Information Center (CIC). The new building will house twelve science labs for physics, biology, chemistry, and anatomy/physiology, as well as two 96-seat classrooms, collaborative meeting spaces for students and faculty, study spaces, and a grand staircase that will feature open seating for lectures and presentations.
A key feature of the new laboratories is that they will allow for “active learning” where small groups of students will sit around a table with a computer and learn together rather than relying on faculty lectures. WSU Tri-Cities chancellor, Sandra Haynes said the building design was the result of feedback they received from a series of open forums with students, faculty, and staff. The new building is expected to open in 2021.
The groundbreaking was attended by members of the WSU Board of Regents who were meeting on campus. The Board of Regents voted to approve a ten-year lease for approximately 17,800-square-feet of space on the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences Yakima campus to house WSU’s College of Nursing. The school’s College of Pharmacy is already located there.

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Framatome’s new scrap uranium recovery facility will separate uranium dioxide from other materials.
Framatome, a French multi-national company with 14,000 employees worldwide, including 575 at its North Richland fuel fabrication facility, will complete construction this year on a new 11,000-square-foot Scrap Uranium Recovery Facility (SURF) that began construction in 2017. The $20 million facility will replace a 35-year-old extraction facility. The company is one of the largest manufacturers in the Tri-Cities. It manufactured more than 2,300 fuel assemblies and more than 100 million uranium fuel pellets last year, an increase of more than 8 million pellets just since 2016.
The nuclear fuel fabrication facility opened in 1970, and is ten years into a 40-year fuel fabrication license renewal, a first in the industry when it was awarded by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During its time in Richland, the facility has shipped more than 66,000 fuel assemblies to nuclear sites worldwide under a number of different company names .

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Technology Tidbits.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Pacific Northwest National Laboratory more than $12.1 million in incentive pay for its work during 2019. The lab employs about 4,400 scientists, engineers, and professional staff, most of them located in north Richland in the Research District. The amount awarded by DOE represented 97 percent of the maximum incentive pay, or fee, available of $12.5 million, the highest percentage at any of the 10 DOE Office of Science laboratories for the fiscal year that ended in September. Battelle was graded on its performance in eight areas, receiving ‘A’s in the key areas of mission accomplishment and science and technology project management.
Battelle, which has held the contract to manage PNNL since it opened in 1965, invests some of its award fee back into the Tri-Cities area through corporate contributions that support STEM education, the arts, and human services organizations.

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The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer has honored three innovations developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. They include, energy use sensors, fish and wildlife tracking devices, and a streamlined technology licensing agreement. The innovations were among the 2020 FLC national awards the consortium announced earlier this month.
PNNL received two Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards, which recognize dedication, ingenuity, and collaboration for moving inventions into the marketplace; and one Technology Transfer Innovation Award for increasing technology transfer opportunities. PNNL has received 95 FLC awards since the program’s inception in 1984, the most of any national laboratory. Story continues ...
Finding a parking place in busy urban areas is a major headache for freight delivery drivers. Help may be on the way as a result of a new artificial intelligence and machine-learning app being developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. The Department of Energy lab is using $1.5 million from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office to develop, test and improve technologies aimed at creating efficiencies for freight drivers. Freight companies would benefit from a mechanism that helps drivers identify open parking close to a delivery location.
The University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab asked PNNL to create an app that will inform drivers of probable open parking spots — helping to reduce double parking, blocked traffic and parking fines. Working directly with drivers, PNNL developed the app to include features most usable to freight deliverers, such as making accurate predictions about the locations of open parking spots and curb space. In a second phase of the project, the Urban Freight Lab will contract with a parking sensor company to install sensors in an eight-block study area in downtown Seattle to collect data about parking spots and occupancy.

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Comings and Goings.
An Idaho economic developer with experience running multi-county economic development programs, as well as experience in dealing with the U.S, Department of Energy, Battelle, and other energy-related contractors, has been selected to be TRIDEC’s new president/CEO.  Karl Dye , 52, was president and CEO of Valley Vision Economic Development Association, the lead economic development organization in the Lewis-Clark Valley, located on the Washington-Idaho border. Dye replaces Carl Adrian who led TRIDEC for the past 16 years and retired at the end of January. “Karl’s experience in bringing cities, counties and ports together will be invaluable to TRIDEC,” said Eric Pearson, chairman of TRIDEC’s board of directors.

Dye was born in Lewiston, and graduated from the University of Idaho. After college he worked in marketing for Caterpillar, Inc. and for Litehouse, Inc., a salad dressing maker based in Sandpoint, Idaho. In 2004 he was elected to a two-year term as a Bonner County Commissioner, where he became interested in economic development. At the end of his term, he was selected to become the executive director of the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation, a post he held for seven years. He served as director of corporate and community relations for the Idaho PTECH Network, and was selected to be Valley Vision’s president and CEO in 2018. 

Dye is well-versed in the history and scope of TRIDEC, having prepared himself for the TRIDEC job by reading a history and biography of TRIDEC and its legendary leader, Sam Volpentest, before applying for the position. Since being selected, Dye has immersed himself in the community, meeting as many community and elected leaders as possible and embarking on his first marketing mission within days of his start of work. He plans to become active in the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the international trade association of economic development professionals.

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Miles Thomas, AICP , formerly Principal Consultant of Community Planning Resources, is joining the Port to become the new Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs. Thomas has experience in private and public sector community and economic development and holds a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning with a specialization in Economic Development from the University of Illinois and a BA in Architecture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At the Port, Thomas will focus on planning, business recruitment and development, governmental affairs, and execution of Port’s strategic plan. He will also be the Administrator of the Innovation Partnership Zone, which is the state designated geographic boundary of the Tri-Cities Research District.
Ron Branine, CPMM , is the Port’s new Facilities Manager. Branine joins the Port of Benton with thirty years of experience in facilities management. Most recently, Branine was the Facilities Manager for Walla Walla County. Prior to coming to Washington State, Branine was the Chief of Engineering and Facilities Management at Xanterra Parks and Resorts at Crater Lake, Oregon and involved with emergency management in Grant County, Kansas where he was a volunteer firefighter for twenty years.
Joseph Walker has joined the Port as its new Airport Manager. Walker previously worked for the City of Vancouver’s Pearson Field Airport, where he managed more than 175 leases and business development opportunities at the historic field, which is located adjacent to Fort Vancouver. He worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Port of Portland’s various airports, the National Park Service, the National Historic Trust, and the Pearson Field Educational Center (STEM Program). Press Release
In Focus...
SIGN Fracture Care International, founded by Dr. Lewis Zirkle, manufactures stainless steel nails used in surgeries to treat long bone fractures in third-world countries all over the world. The firm celebrated its 20th anniversary in December. SIGN estimates that doctors trained by SIGN have treated 250,000 patients over the past 20 years. They aspire to serve 100,000 people per year by 2025. The nonprofit spends about 89 percent of its budget on training and implants, which are donated to surgeons in hospitals that lack funding to provide modern treatments for fractures.

SIGN implants and procedures are designed to be used in places without electricity, because so many of the hospitals and clinics where the surgeons work lack power or have unreliable utilities. The company began by treating injuries caused by land mines left over from countless conflicts. However, as the economies around the world advance, more people have access to motorized transportation, like motorcycles and scooters, which means more accidents and broken bones.

Located in the Tri-Cities Research District, SIGN has had a healthy impact on the Tri-City economy the past 20 years. The company has 43 employees, 41 of whom work full-time. Manufacturing implants creates jobs and brings surgeons to Richland for training, thus filling hotel rooms and restaurant booths. The company trains up to 150 doctors from all over the world when they visit Richland for training.

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Hanford Waste Treatment Plant Analytical Laboratory
Initial staff has arrived at the Analytical Laboratory at Hanford’s $17 billion vitrification plant. The team of eight chemists started work in January to prepare to start treating Hanford’s radioactive waste by the end of 2023. Bechtel National, which is building and starting up the plant, plans to hire 32 more chemists and laboratory staff over the next 18 months to support work at the plant’s Analytical Laboratory. The lab is one of four major facilities on the 65-acre vitrification plant campus in the center of the Hanford site.

Construction began on the plant in 2002 under a plan to glassify some of the 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous waste for permanent disposal. The Analytical Laboratory is the size of a football field and stands about four stories high. Chemists and other lab employees will help to develop a “recipe” of glass forming materials for each batch of waste contained in a specific tank, and also confirm that a high-quality glass is produced.

The initial lab staff began training in 2018 at a lab set up at Columbia Basin College in Pasco to allow them to start training on equipment that was moved to the Hanford laboratory in recent months. The staff hired for the vitrification plant lab will work there through startup and commissioning of the lab, and could be hired as the plant begins treating tank waste under a contractor yet to be determined.

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We will consider any items about the Tri-Cities Research District, or its stakeholders, including news, awards, and notices of upcoming events. Please send text and photos to C. Mark Smith cmsmith@earthlink.net or call (509) 628-9575 .
For more information about the Tri-Cities Research District, please visit our website http://www.tricitiesresearchdistrict.org/ .
Miles Thomas Executive Director Innovation Partnership Zone Administrator
3100 George Washington Way, Richland, WA 99352 • (509) 375-3060 

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