Composites recycling center in Port Angeles gains funding, interest

By James Casey, April 18, 2015, Peninsula Daily News

Hope is glowing brighter for a composites-recycling center at William R. Fairchild International Airport.

 

Following her report to port commissioners last week, Jennifer States, director of business development for the Port of Port Angeles, had trouble dimming her optimism for the Composite Recycling Technology Center, saying the $5.3 million facility could open as soon as January.

 

The port had just received Gov. Jay Inslee’s promise of $712,000 in state Department of Commerce funds if it gets $2 million more in federal funds that officials were reviewing last week.

 

The port also has budgeted up to $1.5 million of its own cash and seeks an additional $1 million from Clallam County’s Opportunity Fund.

 

A hearing on that grant is scheduled for Thursday by the Opportunity Fund Advisory Board, which then will recommend whether county commissioners should allocate the money.

 

Members of the advisory board include Bill Hermann, Sharon DelaBarre, Dan Leinan, Mike McAleer, Alan Bernard and Joe Murray.

 

More money or in-kind contributions could come from the port’s other partners in the project: the city of Port Angeles and Peninsula College.

 

111 new jobs

 

States updated her employment projection for the center, predicting it would provide 111 family-wage jobs by its fifth year of operation and 200 jobs by its ninth year.

 

Related enterprises would employ 340 people by its sixth year, she said.

 

The jobs would pay between $9,639 and $40,067 above Clallam County’s living wage for a family of four, set at $40,166, and even farther above the average wage of $35,953, according to Olympus Consulting of Port Angeles.

 

States said the port would need to subsidize the center for its first two years but did not give an estimate of the cost before its operational revenue would make it self-sustaining.

 

States reported last Tuesday on the March 7-16 trip to the JEC Composites trade show at Porte de Versailles in Paris she took with port composites consultant Geoff Wood of Bremerton.

 

The journey was a success, she said.

 

The proposed Port Angeles facility — which would include classrooms and laboratories for Peninsula College’s composites classes, recycling machinery and start-up space for composites fabricators — drew visitors from potential recyclers and manufacturers to the booth it shared with Washington state representatives in the United States pavilion.

 

“I think the Washington state people got a little annoyed that we were getting so many interested people,” States said.

 

‘Unique in world’

 

The Fairchild facility would be “unique in the world in that we’re focusing on the uncured carbon fiber,” she said, speaking of material known as “prepreg” that is trimmed from aircraft components and other products before it is heated and hardened.

 

Boeing’s Dreamliner plant in Everett has committed to supplying composite waste from 787 manufacturing for the cost of shipping it to Port Angeles, States said.

 

The Composite Recycling Technology Center would become the third carbon-fiber-recycling site in the United States, besides ones in Wichita, Kan., and Lake City, S.C.

 

Only six more such facilities are in operation around the world, according to JEC Composites.

 

Composites campus

 

States said she and Wood also conferred with makers of recycling equipment the port would purchase for the center’s 25,000-square-foot building at 2220 W. 18th St., Port Angeles.

 

It stands next to an identical building that is occupied by Angeles Composite Technologies Inc., or ACTI, which manufactures aircraft parts and assemblies.

 

Although the center would produce rolls and sheets of carbon-fiber composite material, the recycled product could not be used by ACTI or other aerospace manufacturers for structural components, but it could be made into interior parts.

 

The Composite Recycling Technology Center’s prospectus identifies recreation, water sports and food handling as the likely areas for items made from its recycled composites.

 

Port Commissioner Jim Hallett congratulated States on her trip, saying it would help fulfill the port’s vision for “a prosperous Clallam County and enhancing the environment to provide job creation.

 

“This will put the city of Port Angeles squarely on the radar for a lot of people,” he said.

 

“That kind of outreach will have some spillover effect. This is part of our countywide economic initiative.”

 

After the meeting, States said that although she declined to identify them, composites companies already were arranging visits to Port Angeles to view the recycling center, for which the port has allocated $190,000 for interior design by Mount Vernon-based Carletti Architects.

 

‘An excellent event’

 

To view States’ updated projected timelines and economic analyses, visit http://tinyurl.com/PDN-portofpacomposites.

 

“I think it was an excellent event,” she said of the conference in Paris, although she said her schedule allowed no time to visit attractions like the Eiffel Tower — which she said now includes electricity-generating wind turbines.

 

She said the cost of the journey probably would come in below the $20,000 commissioners anticipated.

 

“I don’t have my expense report done yet,” she said. “I’ve got a gigantic pile of receipts that are all in French.”

 

States said it was safer to be cynical about renewed economic development in Clallam County but that her hopes seemed justified.

 

“I think it just feels like we’re beginning to see a little bit of a tide turning,” she said.

 

“The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I’m very optimistic.”

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