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Economic Development Office

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update

This monthly e-mailed update contains news, opportunities, upcoming events, and other information about Mid-Columbia tech businesses and the organizations that support them.

February 2017 Issue


OMAX Corp. Receives Prestigious Tibbetts Award

OMAX Corp., a longtime participant in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Technology Assistance Program, was one of 37 small businesses nationwide to receive a prestigious 2016 Tibbetts Award.  The Tibbetts Award recognizes the contributions of small businesses to the Small Business Innovation Research Program.  The Kent, WA-based company specializes in abrasive waterjet machining. OMAX’s technology has opened doors for industrial and military applications, and the company has grown to 304 employees and has achieved more than 250 percent growth in revenue since 2005. The award recipients were honored January 10 in Washington, DC. Read about the 2016 recipients.  Learn more about OMAX. 

Tri-Tech Skills Center Team Wins App Challenge

A team made up of three high school seniors from Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, WA was named winner of the Washington State Fourth Congressional District’s second annual Congressional App Challenge.  The app, called “Trinity Complex,” is an open world, first-person game in which the player must navigate through a virtual environment to collect six keys.  The Challenge was created because Congress recognized that science, technology, engineering and math education skills are essential for economic growth and innovation.  Learn more.

Mid-Columbia SCORE Tri-Cities Leads National Chapters in Mentoring

The latest report from SCORE National has indicated that the Mid-Columbia chapter of SCORE has already recorded more than 14,000 mentored sessions in just over three months, more than most states nationally.  The Mid-Columbia Tri-Cities SCORE chapter provides resources and services to entrepreneurs in 16 counties covering Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  Read about SCORE’s latest achievement.  Learn more about Mid-Columbia Tri-Cities SCORE.

Walla Walla Opens First Coworking Space

Emberfuel Coworking, the first co-working space of its kind in Walla Walla, WA, opened in December.  Prices range from $20 for a day pass to $250 per month for a fulltime member.  The founder, Keith Nerdin, learned much about setting up Emberfuel Coworking from his experience co-working at Fuse SPC in Richland, WA.  Read more.  Visit Emberfuel’s website. 

Tech Opportunities and Resources

Classes Offered at Confluent

Confluent, a makerspace targeted to the arts and tech communities in Tri-Cities, WA, offers a variety of classes for members and non-members.  Located in Richland, Confluent offers memberships starting at $35 per month.  Classes include:

  • February 7.  Laser Cutting Tool Training, 6 - 7:30 pm.
  • February 11, February 25 and March 5.  3D Printer Tool Training, 1 - 3 pm.

Classes are at the Confluent facility.  See the full variety of classes offered.  Learn more about Confluent.

Upcoming Government Contracting Workshops

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center is a statewide organization dedicated to guiding companies through the entire process of applying for and fulfilling government contracts.  Washington PTAC offers no-cost workshops that help inform small business owners and others about aspects of contracting, including:

  • February 9.  Government Contracting Essentials, 9 - 11 am, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Kennewick, WA.
  • February 28.  Meet the BIGS! Doing Business with thet Government, 10 am - 2 pm, Ramada Spokane Airport, Spokane, WA.
  • March 14.  Marketing to the Federal Government, 9 - 10:30 am, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Kennewick, WA
  • March 28.  GSA 101 - Multiple Award Schedules Program, 9 - 11 am, Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center, Kennewick, WA.

 See the PTAC workshop calendar.

Tech Dates and Deadlines

Tri-Cities Launch

Fuse Coworking is hosting Tri-Cities Launch, a four-part series of events that bring together people and resources to innovate technology, community, and culture.   

  • Launch Pad, February 9, 6 pm.  This one-night event is designed to inspire and motivate active participation by entrepreneurs, mentors, and inventors.
  • Launch University: Ideation, beginning February 23.  This is a multi-week "ideation to validation" primer that validates idea and entry to entrepreneurship.
  • Launch Weekend, beginning March 31.  This is an intense, 54-hour team making, team building event.
  • Launch University: Startup, occurring in later 2017.  This is an advanced multi-week program designed to grow CEOs and companies who successfully validated ideas.

There is no cost to attend Launch Pad. Early bird registration is available for Launch Weekend ($80), Launch University ($40), or Launch University and Weekend combination ($100). Learn more and register.

Alliance Northwest 2017

March 9.  Alliance Northwest, the largest business-to-government conference in the Pacific Northwest, is being held March 9 from 7:30 am – 4 pm at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, WA.  The conference is open to businesses interested in selling to the government and prime contractors, as well as prime contractors and government buyers seeking to reach out to small and diverse businesses.  This conference provides opportunities for networking as well as workshops and keynote presentations on topics such as achieving success and latest trends.  Cost is $115 through March 7, $135 at the door. Learn more and register.

PNNL This Month

Biofuel Matchmaker: Finding the Perfect Algae for Renewable Energy

A new, approximately $6-million collaborative project is using a unique climate-stimulating laboratory system as part of a new process that quickly pares down heaps of algae species into just a few that hold promise for renewable fuels.  This new approach through the Algae DISCOVR Project could result in reduced cost and time needed to move promising strains of algae from the lab and into production.  The three-year pilot project is led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and includes Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories, as well as the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation.  Learn more.

PNNL STEM Educator Retires After 28 Years

Jeff Estes, longtime leader of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education and Outreach at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, retired December 31. During Estes’ tenure, more than 200,000 high school through postgraduate students have participated in internships at PNNL. He played a large part in creating the Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform program as well as Delta High School.  Evangelina Shreeve has assumed Estes’ former role. Learn more.

Got News?

We invite your contributions! We will consider items that fit the mission of this publication, including your tech-related news, awards, and notices of upcoming events. Please send text and photos to or call (509) 371-6017.

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update is published by the Economic Development Office at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Each month, we send you an e-mail message, giving you the link of news, tips, awards, upcoming events, and other information about local technology-based businesses and organizations that support them. With business and community partners, our goal is to build and diversify the Tri-Cities economy—adding skilled jobs in primary-sector industries that bring in outside dollars. Currently, more than 1,100 tech-related businesses, investors, and economic development stakeholders subscribe to the newsletter, mostly in the Mid-Columbia area and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. This newsletter (RL-P00-009) supports DOE-Richland's vision for the future of the Hanford Site and surrounding area through the creation of research opportunities, new industries, and new business clusters