Cantwell Fights to Save High-Tech Jobs in the Tri-Cities

House budget threatens PNNL, which has helped create more than 2,000 private-sector jobs in the Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, WA – Proposed cuts to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) would threaten private-sector job growth in the Tri-Cities, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said Saturday in Richland. Cantwell said she would oppose proposed House budget cuts, which could endanger up 600 jobs at PNNL and harm private-sector job growth in the region.

Speaking from InnovaTek, Inc., a small high-tech business in Richland, WA that was founded with technology developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Cantwell expressed concern that innovative, job-creating research at national laboratories could be jeopardized under the House budget (H.R.1). Innovative research and development at PNNL has helped create or strengthen 100 companies and 2,000 jobs in the Tri-Cities.

“PNNL is an incubator for private-sector job growth here in the Tri-Cities, having created more than 2,000 jobs at 100 different companies in this region,” Senator Cantwell said. “In the U.S. Senate, I will fight for high-tech jobs here in the Tri-Cities. Limiting the potential of innovative national technology research labs, such as PNNL, is not the way to boost job creation or improve our international competitiveness.”

On February 19th, the House passed H.R.1 by a 235 to 189 vote. In the Senate, Cantwell joined with the majority of her colleagues in rejecting H.R. 1 on March 9th by a 56 to 44. The current spending package, known as a continuing resolution, expires on March 18th. As Congress works on a compromise spending plan, Cantwell will be fighting to save critical investment in the country’s national laboratories. Half of the U.S. economic growth since 1945 can be attributed to investments in science and technology, according to PNNL.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s innovative work pays dividends in the local economy and is important to Washington state and the nation. PNNL is the single largest employer in the Tri-Cities, and the second largest east of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state, after Fairchild Air Force Base. Since 1997, PNNL employment has increased 46 percent (from 3,360 to 4,907 jobs), of which 4,500 are locatedin Richland with local payroll totals of$410 million. PNNL spends about $27 million a year with merchants in Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, and Walla Walla, and a total of $57 million statewide.

PNNL is serving the nation by developing clean energy technology and performing groundbreaking research that increases the nation’s national security capabilities. Some examples of technologies created at PNNL include computer technology that creates an integrated, remotely accessible database of information from multiple cargo inspections, enhancing our national security capabilities, and a new grid that balances household appliance energy supply on the power grid, lessening the potential for power outages. To learn more about technology developed at PNNL, click here.