Program seeking to spur industry

Innovation hub hopes to bring jobs

PORT ANGELES — A program to boost the forest products industry in Clallam and Jefferson counties is moving ahead, with hopes of attracting new businesses and creating new jobs.

Last year, the Clallam County Economic Development Council received $50,000 from the state Department of Commerce to set up its Natural Resources Innovation Center (NRIC), with the hopes of boosting a local forest products industry.

Now the EDC is getting ready to stand up NRIC as a nonprofit organization to serve as a hub for forest product businesses to connect with other companies, find funding opportunities and access economic and feasibility studies. The group — which is currently just a subcommittee at the EDC — will be industry-led, EDC Executive Director Colleen McAleer said, and work to find projects that are collectively beneficial for the industry.

“It’ll be much more successful if (industry leaders) are the ones that say, ‘This is what we need to do. This is how we need to be investing our money. This is how any investments would help my particular business,’” McAleer said.

Many forest products businesses in the area are small businesses that may not be able to afford or conduct things like feasibility studies on their own but may be willing to contribute to a portion of a project in collaboration with other partners.

NRIC already has received funding from state and federal sources to get started, but backers are hoping the two counties of the North Olympic Peninsula, Clallam and Jefferson, will be awarded $50 million through a federal pilot program meant to help economically distressed areas.

In December, the North Olympic Peninsula Recompete Coalition — a group made up of North Olympic Peninsula counties, cities, tribes and others — was named as a finalist for Phase 2 of the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program, a new federal program that could bring up to $50 million to the peninsula.

Not all of that money would be spent on NRIC, but $2.4 million would be, and tens of millions would be spent on other projects such as infrastructure and job training that will help the forest products industry.

If awarded the Phase 2 grant, the coalition would have about $20 million to put toward creating jobs.

“It would be infrastructure or equipment or programs that would be owned by a government entity that, by investing in that project, that would enable private industry to create more jobs,” McAleer said.

She gave the example of Port Angeles-based Composite Recycling Technology Center wanting to purchase a thermal modification unit, which would allow the company to create additional products and expand to new markets.

“If CRTC receives funding for that, it would actually be owned by the Port of Port Angeles, leased to CRTC, and then they can do a lot more, hire new people, with that,” McAleer said.

The main objective of the Recompete Program is to get working-aged people back into the workforce with well-paying jobs, and McAleer said the forest products industry can provide living-wage jobs to people without four-year degrees.

The application for Phase 2 of the Recompete Program is due April 25 and the coalition is still working on its final proposals. McAleer said the group is working with businesses that may be interested in moving onto the Peninsula.

McAleer added the coalition is in talks with a company that makes natural plastic alternatives and is interested in expanding to Forks.

There are 22 finalists for Phase 2 of the Recompete Program, including the Peninsula’s coalition, and between six and eight will be selected to receive between $20 million and $50 million.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at

More in News

From left to right are Indigo Gould, Hazel Windstorm, Eli Hill, Stuart Dow, Mateu Yearian and Hugh Wentzel.
Port Townsend Knowledge Bowl team wins consecutive state championships

The Knowledge Bowl team from Port Townsend High School has… Continue reading

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls dirt from around the base of an orca sculpture at the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield on Thursday during site preparation to rebuild the Port Angeles play facility, which was partially destroyed by an arson fire on Dec. 20. A community build for the replacement playground is scheduled for May 15-19 with numerous volunteer slots available. Signups are available at (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)
Site preparation at Dream Playground

Bob Edgington of 2 Grade LLC excavating, which donated its resources, pulls… Continue reading

Rayonier Inc. is selling more than 115,000 acres in four units across the West Olympic Peninsula last week as the company looks to sell $1 billion worth of assets. (Courtesy photo / Rayonier Inc.)
Rayonier to sell West End timberland

Plans call for debt restructuring; bids due in June

Port Angeles port approves contract for Maritime Trade Center bid

Utilities installation, paving part of project at 18-acre site

Port Angeles to hire personnel to operate day ambulance

The Port Angeles Fire Department will be able to… Continue reading

Port Angeles City Hall parking lot closed for construction

Work crews from Bruch and Bruch Construction, Inc. will… Continue reading

Teen photo contest open for submissions

The Jefferson County Library is accepting submissions for Teen… Continue reading

Letters of inquiry for grant cycle due May 15

The Olympic View Community Foundation and the Seattle Foundation will… Continue reading

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a table staffed by Christopher Allen and Mary Sue French of the Port Angeles Arts Council during a Volunteer Fair on Wednesday at Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. The event, organized by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce, brought together numerous North Olympic Peninsula agencies that offer people a chance to get involved in their communities. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)
Volunteer fair in Port Angeles

Amy DeQuay of Port Angeles, right, signs up for information at a… Continue reading

Luncheon to raise funds for women with cancer

The Kathleen Sutton Fund will host its third spring… Continue reading

Among those volunteering are rowers from Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Sequim. Pictured from left to right are WendyRae Johnson of Port Angeles; Gail Clark and Lynn Gilles, both of Sequim, Jean Heessels-Petit of Sequim; Christi Jolly, Dennis Miller, Carolyn DeSalvo and Frank DeSalvo, all of Sequim; and Rudy Heessels, Amy Holms and Guy Lawrence, all of Sequim.
Sequim Bay Yacht Club to host opening day ceremonies

The Sequim Bay Yacht Club will host free boat rides… Continue reading

Serve Washington presented service award

Serve Washington presented its Washington State Volunteer Service Award to… Continue reading