Richland bypassed for regional smart manufacturing center

A proposed facility to develop advanced manufacturing technologies is no longer in the cards for Richland.

Richland was removed about six months ago as the site when the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, or CESMII, went through an internal reorganization, said Howard Goldberg, the institute’s vice president for business development.

Right now, the institute’s Los Angeles headquarters coordinates activities originally planned for Richland.

In 2016, CESMII announced that Richland would be the Northwest hub for the nationwide venture. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was to operate the Richland site, which was supposed to study technologies to reduce energy use in factories, creating advanced materials and improve manufacturing processes.

In the original proposal, PNNL was expected to join forces with Washington State University, University of Washington, Oregon State University, VertueLab (formerly Oregon BEST), Montana educational institutions, Bonneville Power Administration, industry partners and other organizations across the Northwest.

CESMII is financed by $140 million in federal and private money. It recently announced $10 million for funding its first 10 projects, none of which are in the Northwest. At that time, Jim Wetzel, interim CEO of CESMII, said in a news release: “We look forward to driving business practices, enabling technology, smart manufacturing capability and work force development through this investment.”

More projects will be announced at a later date.

That doesn’t mean PNNL can’t participate, said Mike Rinker, PNNL’s manager of energy efficiency and renewable energy. He added that CESMII likely will add a satellite office in the Northwest, but that site has not been picked yet.

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