Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Schweitzer to open event center"

Nice write-up about my company, Schweitzer Engineering Labs, in today's Daily Evergreen:
Company continues to expand in Pullman with the addition of the $20-million building.

They’re moving in the furniture at Schweitzer Engineering Labs.

Pullman’s largest company is scrambling to put the finishing touches on a new 17,000-square-foot events center by next week. Schweitzer hopes to have the doors open for its first corporate event Oct. 12, SEL Property Manager Jana Schultheis said.

The events center will also be open to the public for other functions. From the main lobby area, the building has a 1,000-square-foot training room and 750-square-foot board room on one side, with an identical training room on the opposite side.

Past the lobby, visitors will find a 7,000-square-foot main room with projectors, cameras, three drop-drown screens and a lighting and sound system. There’s also an area to prepare food for catered events.

Outside, SEL is landscaping a 5,000-square-foot garden for outdoor gatherings.

A short walk across the parking lot, SEL is completing an 89,000-square-foot corporate headquarters. The five-story building will house most of the company’s business offices, with several floors of office space and conference rooms. Two outdoor decks are included on the top floor, with a view of the industrial park.

Schultheis said employees will begin occupying the building by November. The headquarters will open with an unfinished third floor, which will likely be completed next year.

SEL President Ed Schweitzer has been involved with many of the project details, from the general architecture down to the door framing.

“He looks at all the details; he doesn’t just look at the big picture,” Schultheis said.

On the other side of the SEL property, a new addition to the company’s manufacturing facility is under construction. The work will add about 100,000 square feet, doubling the facility’s existing size. Crews will put up the walls during the winter, and Schultheis said she hopes it will be complete by June 2007.

The addition creates about 300 new jobs, spokeswoman Susan Fagan said.

Schultheis is also overseeing new construction for SEL in Pennsylvania. Crews recently finished a project in Chicago, and the company has offices worldwide.

“The company’s booming,” Schultheis said.

SEL manufactures equipment used in electric power transmission. Ed Schweitzer founded the company in 1982. He created the first digital protective relay while working on a Ph.D. at WSU, and has turned the invention into a multi-million-dollar enterprise.

Despite it’s expansion, SEL has kept its roots in Pullman About 1,000 of the company’s 1,300 employees work at the Pullman facility near Terre View Drive, Fagan said, and about half of them live in the city.

The price tag for these latest home-town construction projects is more than $20 million.

This is not the end of SEL’s expansion in Pullman. Plans are also in the works to develop a “town square” area of commercial and residential properties on the opposite side of the events center. The development could include any number of retail businesses, homes and apartments. Schultheis is currently reviewing proposals, but had no estimate on when development might begin.

In the meantime, the housing market in Pullman continues to grow. In 2005, the city issued permits for a record 403 houses and apartments. With three months left in the year, 308 permits have been issued in 2006, according to a building department report.

“[SEL employees] do have a very substantial, positive impact on the housing market,” Pullman City Supervisor John Sherman said. “The whole economy benefits tremendously from the growth in SEL.

Sherman said there is significant housing construction under way, but more is needed. Some employees who would like to live in Pullman simply cannot find a home because there aren’t enough available, he said.
Yes, Ed Schweitzer has stayed in Pullman all these years despite the anti-growth attitudes and the restrictive regulations.

Queen Christine and her merry band of Marxist Robin Hoods in Olympia want to rob from the rich and give to the poor (unions). God knows, she owes them her job. Is Ed Schweitzer a multi-millionaire? Unquestionably. Does Ed Schweitzer's presence here benefit Pullman incalcuably? Undeniably.

All of that you just read about in the Evergreen article: the new construction, the new jobs, the increased tax revenue; will be gone when Ed Schweitzer is gone. His life's work will be sacrificed on the altar of the union-run, socialist education machine. The Washington Education Association will inherit Schweitzer's legacy, not Pullman.

Vote for Initiative 920 before it's too late.

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