Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Schweitzer donates $1 million to science center"

More on the Schweitzer donation from today's Daily News:

The Palouse Discovery Science Center will find a permanent home in the Port of Whitman County’s Pullman Industrial Park.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has donated $1 million to the center, which will use the money to buy the 11,000-square-foot building occupied by Decagon Devices. The Pullman-based technology firm has plans in 2007 to expand into a 33,000-square-foot building it is buying from SEL.

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson praised SEL President and founder Ed Schweitzer’s generosity as “another great example of SEL’s positive influence in the community as a corporate citizen.”

Johnson noted Schweitzer also contributed to the construction of the Pullman Regional Hospital, which opened in December 2004, and gave all of the money needed to build the Pullman Aquatic Center.

“He has contributed to the economic development of this city by bringing jobs and turns around and gives back to the community,” Johnson said.

When the science center moves into the new building in 2007, it will be the first time it has a home of its own. The science center opened its doors in November 2003 in space owned by SEL in the Pullman Industrial Park on the north edge of Pullman. SEL leased the space to the science center for free for five years. That lease is up at the end of 2007, said SEL spokeswoman Susan Fagan.

Schweitzer decided to help the science center find a permanent home because he believes in the work it does, Fagan said.

“It’s extremely valuable and adds to the quality of life in Pullman and the entire area to have a science center that provides science programs for kids,” Fagan said.

About 20,000 people visit the Palouse Discovery Science Center each year to take in exhibits such as the one featuring a mammoth excavation, or programs like the forensic crime lab for children or summer camp teaching children about robotics. It is the only science center in the region.

Decagon Devices’ decision to buy a new building in the industrial park presented a timely opportunity for the science center to move into a new home.

“Things just lined up perfectly,” Fagan said.

Decagon Devices will about triple its size when it relocates, said Kirby Dailey, the company’s general manager. The building is larger than Decagon needs right away but offers room for growth.

The company is growing steadily and expects to add 25 employees over the next three to four years, Dailey said.

Decagon Devices employs about 50 people mostly designing and manufacturing moisture sensors for use in food production and agriculture. One of its devices will travel to Mars in 2007 as part of the NASA’s Phoenix mission.

SEL also is expanding, with plans to add about 200 jobs this year. Another 300 jobs are expected in about 18 months when the company builds a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Schweitzer said in April the facility likely will be built in Pullman.

SEL’s expansion isn’t limited to its workforce. The company is constructing a five-story, 90,000-square-foot building that will serve as its new corporate office when finished in October and a conference and event center on 92 acres of SEL-owned land near the industrial park.


April E. Coggins said...
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Uncle Bubba said...

Thank you Dr.Schweitzer.
I do hope Ed Schweitzer realizes that the citzens of Pullman really do apreciated what he and SEL has contributed to our community.
SEL wants to build a new facility that would offer even more jobs and posperity to our town .Our city and county officials need to actively pursue this as SEL is considering other more business friendly locations. We can't afford to let this opportunity slip away. Pullman needs more good neighbors like Ed Schweitzer and SEL.