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Inland Northwest project named tech hub by federal government

The Triumph manufacturing plant on Spokane's West Plains is envisioned as a composite manufacturing hub.
Courtesy Aviation Pros
The Triumph manufacturing plant on Spokane's West Plains is envisioned as a composite manufacturing hub.

The federal government is recognizing an Inland Northwest manufacturing consortium as an official technology hub eligible for millions of dollars in funding.

The American Aerospace Materials Manufacturing Center proposes to convert an unused aerospace facility on the West Plains.

Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh, whose institution leads the consortium, says the project is now in the running for $50-70 million CHIPS and Science Act grants.

“We’ve been invited to prepare for phase 2, which is the next level of competition for the large-scale funding that was authorized when the legislation was signed into law," he said.

If funded, the former Triumph aerospace manufacturing facility would become a place where lightweight composite materials could be developed and molded into airplane parts and other products.

“The presses that are involved with producing large scale thermoplastic components are very expensive and without support, without funding, create barriers to the region’s ability to produce those components," McCulloh said.

The Spokane center is one of 31 hubs that will compete for five-to-10 grants.

“We had a very detailed concept and it was grounded into very specific desires, needs and objectives. I think a number of the tech hub proposals were perhaps a little bit less specific, a little more abstract and perhaps also earlier in their development," McCulloh said.

He says the consortium is comprised of about 50 universities, companies, labor unions, tribes and others.

The CHIPS and Science Act was created in part to fund new research and business clusters in parts of the country where tech economies aren’t already developed.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.