Business is booming at old N-plants

The News Tribune

SATSOP – The view out the window of Chris Slaughter’s office at is blocked by a water cooling tower nearly 500 feet high.

And that’s the way he likes it.

That relic of a failed pair of nuclear power plants provides the basis for Slaughter and other employees at the Satsop Development Park to brag about being in one of the most unusual working environments in the country.

“It was a little surreal driving up here the first day,” said Slaughter, who manages customer accounts at SafeHarbor. “But it’s a nice built-in icon. You can’t do much better than that.”

The Satsop nuclear plant site is being turned into a high-tech business park in an effort to spur the economy of timber-dependent Grays Harbor County. But the water cooling towers, which can be seen from Highway 12, will always remain at the site as a sign of the plant’s original intent.

The Grays Harbor Public Development Authority plans to bring more than 7,000 jobs to the area in the next decade, said Tami Garrow, director of business development.

High-tech companies such as online support provider, Internet service provider and e-commerce support company Cypress Resources have moved to the area because of its state-of-the-art, high-speed Internet network and low rents.

Boise Cascade Corp. has signed a letter of intent to open a siding manufacturing plant that would bring 120 jobs. Duke Energy North America is negotiating to buy land and permits that would allow development of a turbine power station on 40 acres nearby that are owned by Energy Northwest.

Garrow plans to lure businesses by emphasizing the county’s quality of life, lack of traffic jams and bargain real estate.

House prices there average $91,400, compared to Pierce County’s average of $169,859 in August. But the park is a couple of hours from both Seattle and Portland, far out of the way for most businesses.

Still, park supporters argue that location is becoming less important in the new Internet economy, especially with the business park’s high-speed Internet access.

“It’s a little strange. It’s hard to explain to people what (the park) is,” said Scott Sipe, network planner for Internet provider “It’s an excellent work environment.” was the first business to move into the park, a year ago.

Grays Harbor reached its peak economically in 1926 when it was the busiest port in the state. Since then the population has remained static, at about 67,000, said Dick Conway, a local economist who publishes The Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.

Between 1980 and 1997, Washington added nearly 1 million jobs. Grays Harbor County lost 2,400.

About 60 percent of the company’s workers live in Grays Harbor County, although some workers make the hour drive from Tacoma each day.

The Grays Harbor Public Development Authority will start selling the site to businesses and site selectors nationwide in the coming months. The development authority is a public-private entity that gets no tax money. Instead, it must raise money through rent, fees and the sale of the pieces of the nuclear plant. That makes finishing the project a bit of a challenge, Garrow said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.