PORT ANGELES — The Composite Recycling Technology Center has been completed and the expected start of production and product launch are slated for November, officials said Thursday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the facility.
“What began as a vision for a better future for our region at the Port of Port Angeles more than two years ago has now become a reality,” said Bob Larsen, CEO of the center, during the ceremony.
“Still in our start-up phase, we have eight employees on staff, management systems in place” and laboratories and equipment installed — ready for use this November.
About 50 people, including local and state officials, attended the ceremony, held in front of the new facility at 2138 W. 18th St.
Following remarks by various officials connected with the project, state Rep. Steve Tharinger, using a pair of oversized scissors, cut a red ribbon as several other dignitaries looked on.
Tharinger is a Sequim Democrat who represents the 24th Legislative District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County. He will be challenged Nov. 8 by John Alger, a Sequim Republican.
In July 2015, the Port of Port Angeles was awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to retrofit a facility to house the center. Construction on the new facility began last September.
The Port of Port Angeles provided funding for architectural design and engineering work, as well as additional costs that were not included in the grant funding, according to a news release. These costs included funding for 91 kilowatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity on the roof of the facility.
Supporters say the facility will bring 200 new jobs to Port Angeles over the next six years.
More than that, the facility might attract new businesses to the area who are drawn by the wealth of knowledge available at the center, they say.
“Today, we are here to celebrate a milestone,” said Connie Beauvais, Port of Port Angeles District 3 commissioner, during the ceremony.
“We should pause to recognize how far we have come, and that we have come to this point by joining together as a community to support an innovative new approach toward economic development.”
With the completion of the center, “four different manufacturing tenants [will operate] in 225,000 square feet of space in six buildings,” Beauvais continued.
“Most importantly, within this campus, there are hundreds of people employed in manufacturing jobs. We expect that number to continue to rise.”
In July, it was announced that an agreement established the Composite Recycling Technology Center, known as the CRTC, as a partner and West Coast satellite location for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation of Tennessee, and allows Peninsula College to expand its capacity to train the composites manufacturing workforce.
The CRTC was called the world’s first facility to develop carbon fiber composite scrap materials into products that can be used in the automotive, energy and recreational industries.
The state of Washington has 96 composite manufacturers, according to the federal government.
It is estimated that 2 million pounds of carbon fiber scrap waste are sent to Washington’s landfills each year. The potential market value of recycled carbon fiber scrap waste is $50 million, supporters say.
Recycled carbon fiber composites use only one-tenth of the energy compared to manufacturing new carbon fiber composites, according to the federal government.
Thursday’s ribbon-cutting was a celebration for local leaders that will be followed by the grand opening in November, which will bring state, federal and international participants to the facility, according to the release.
CRTC also will house Peninsula College’s Advanced Manufacturing-Composite Technology program to give students classroom and hands-on training in advanced materials recycling and remanufacturing techniques, according to a news release.
“We’re excited to be participating in the development of the CRTC as a key educational partner,” said Luke Robins, Peninsula College president.
“Partnerships such as the CRTC create great synergy between public and private entities, provide outstanding learning opportunities for our students and can be dynamic catalysts for economic development for our region.”
Peninsula College is developing “a program of study that will prepare a skilled workforce that will use recycled composite materials to produce new products,” Robins said.
“Our students will have the opportunity to work and study in an environment that is collaborative, innovative and frankly really on the cutting edge of the application of existing advanced manufacturing processes.”
For more, visit www.compositerecycling.org.
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected].