Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Schweitzer Engineering makes donation to Palouse science center"

From today's Lewiston Tribune, more on that "awful" Schweitzer Engineering Labs:
The Palouse Discovery Science Center and Decagon Devices are getting new homes in a round of musical chairs coordinated by the founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

Ed Schweitzer pledged $1 million that will entirely cover the costs of the Discovery Center purchasing and renovating an 11,000-square-foot building at 950 N.E. Nelson Court that houses Decagon Devices.

The company makes instruments that measure water activity levels for food production and soil water content for irrigation.

Decagon Devices will purchase and move to the 33,000-square-foot building where the Discovery Center is now along with the human resource offices of SEL.

Decagon Devices has been growing at 15 percent to 20 percent annually for three to four years, said Tamsin Campbell, president of the company. "We need more space now and we would have had to build.''

The Discovery Center has a free five-year lease from Schweitzer for 11,000 square feet at 2371 N.E. Hopkins Court that ends this year. The value of that donation was $750,000.

Once a headquarters is completed for SEL in October, the human resources offices will move to the new building.

All of the buildings are in the Pullman Industrial Park.

The gift is the largest in the Discovery Center's history.

More than 20,000 people visit the Discovery Center each year, including school children from as far away as Grangeville.

One of the most popular exhibits has real bones from a prehistoric mammoth. Another exhibit allows visitors to blend colored lights and observe the lights traveling through glass and plastic prisms.

The Discovery Center is important to Schweitzer because it brings "hands-on science and learning experiences to the children and future engineers of the Palouse,'' according to a prepared statement.

The center started as a group of traveling displays in 1999 and landed in its first permanent home in 2002 through a Schweitzer donation.

Schweitzer is one of the most successful business owners in the region. SEL employs about 1,200 including 800 in Pullman.

It plans to hire more than 200 employees this year and another 300 in 18 months when it doubles its manufacturing capacity with an expansion.

SEL makes relays for electrical transmission. Relays protect high voltage transmission lines, distribution lines, transformers, generators, motors and circuits by detecting problems and, if necessary, stopping the flow of current. They are about the size of a videocassette recorder.

A recently introduced product scrambles electrical grid information to protect against terrorist attacks at places such as sewer and water treatment plants.
See, growth and development lead to nice things for everyone in the community, not "blight." What do the detractors offer other than more hot air and discontent?

No comments: