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Published April 2006

Business Briefs

Cenex selling biodiesel
Cenex is now selling biodiesel from two pumps at its Snohomish location, 168 Lincoln Ave., making it the first commercial operation of biodiesel in the county.

The co-op started selling the alternative fuel, made of vegetable oil crushed from seeds and mixed with petroleum diesel, in February in response to requests from several customers, General Manager Ed Eldredge said.

Cenex buys biodiesel from WholeEnergy of Bellingham. Biodiesel is more expensive than regular diesel. But the store was selling both for the same price of $2.93 per gallon in March.

“It’s an intro to get business going,” Eldredge said.

The experiment is picking up business, Eldredge said. The store sells about 1,000 gallons of biodiesel per week. It also hands out brochures about biodiesel to customers.

Damar gets Boeing as a mentor
Damar Machine of Monroe will team up with the Boeing Co. under a Department of Defense program designed to help small businesses compete for federal contracts.

Boeing and Damar announced in March that they had entered a two-year, mentor-protege agreement. Under the plan, Boeing will provide Damar with advanced training on exports and licensing, executive training through Boeing leadership programs and other assistance.

Damar is owned by Thomas James International of Monroe whose chief executive, Thom Kroon, is a disabled Vietnam War veteran.

UW-Bothell creates Center
for Student Entrepreneurship

The University of Washington-Bothell launched its Center for Student Entrepreneurship in March aimed at continuing the school’s success at supporting student entrepreneurs with a focus on helping launch actual businesses.

“It’s a network built with students and alumni at the core, committed to launching the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Alan Leong, the center’s director.

Leong said the center is the result of several years of entrepreneur courses and activity at UW-Bothell. A current network of more than 200 members helps student business owners or the “entrepreneurial minded” by providing weekly meetings, networking and annual retreats. Students come from all program areas, not just business.

Blue Heron wins genome grant
Bothell’s Blue Heron Biotechnology Inc. has received a $769,250 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute to develop methods for assembling large recombinant DNA molecules.

The new grant continues previous federally funded research by Blue Heron, which hopes to extend its genetic synthesis capabilities to produce more than 100,000 base pairs, which form DNA’s double-helix structure.

Neah Power Systems sold
Growth Merger Inc. has acquired Bothell’s Neah Power Systems Inc., a developer of small, methanol-powered fuel cells. With the merger, Growth Merger is changing its corporate name to Neah Power.

The newly combined company plans to apply to trade as an over-the-counter stock run by the Nasdaq stock exchange. Since Neah’s founding in 1999, it has primarily been financed by venture capital.

Crane Aerospace wins Boeing contract
Crane Aerospace & Electronics has received a contract to supply tire and brake monitoring systems for 777 jets built by the Boeing Co.

The sensors monitor the tire pressure and brake temperature of each wheel and displays the information on the flight deck. It uses a wireless valve stem that replaces the existing inflation valves on the tires. The system will be installed on all 777s in the future, Crane said.

Helix BioMedix raises $2.6 million
Helix BioMedix Inc. of Bothell, a developer of wound-healing proteins known as peptides, has raised approximately $2.6 million from a private placement of nearly 2.6 million shares of stock and stock warrants to investors.

Proceeds from the stock sales will be used to pay for the small biotechnology company’s research and development efforts and general expenses, the company said.

Two new computer information
certificates offered by EdCC

Edmonds Community College’s computer information systems department offers two new advanced certificates: business systems analyst beginning this spring and digital forensics starting in the summer. Industry experts helped develop both training programs, the college said.

Classes for the certificates, which can be completed in a year, have been scheduled to fit into working professionals’ schedules, EdCC said, with courses offered in the evenings, on Saturdays and in a hybrid form, with a mix of online and in-class work.

The business systems analyst advanced certificate trains analysts to identify system requirements and find information systems related business solutions, while the digital forensics certificate trains computer forensics examiners.

For more information, call 425-640-1902 or go online to http://cis.edcc.edu.

Kurve Technology signs deal
with Schering-Plough

Kurve Technology Inc., a maker of nasal drug delivery devices, has signed an agreement with Schering-Plough Corp. Details of the partnership, including the value of the deal, were not disclosed.

Based in Bothell, Kurve makes nasal spray bottles with electronic atomizers, digital displays and other devices to improve the effectiveness and safety of nasal-spray drugs.

House of Bread’s
giant cinnamon roll takes record

House of Bread recently received an official certificate from Guinness World Records affirming that the Mill Creek bakery did, indeed, capture the record for the world’s largest cinnamon roll ever baked when bakery staff created a 246.5-pound pastry in October.

As a fun follow-up, House of Bread will be baking a replica of the world’s largest cinnamon roll for the Mill Creek Festival in July, the bakery said.

The Guinness certificate will be on public display in the bakery. Currently, there are no known challengers of the record, according to the bakery.

CombiMatrix partners with Array Genomics
CombiMatrix Corp. of Mukilteo and Array Genomics Inc. of France are partnering to develop and sell a new line of genetic tests.

The first tests, to be manufactured by CombiMatrix, will be designed to diagnose genetic anomalies associated with mental retardation. The companies said those tests are expected to generate revenue within the next several weeks.

Array Genomics will distribute the products in Europe.

Intermec settles dispute with H-P
Intermec Inc. will gain between $14 million and $18 million from its settlement of a legal dispute with Hewlett-Packard.

The settlement ended a four-year fight with Hewlett-Packard over the use of patented smart-battery technology in laptop computers.

The company reported the settlement in a regulatory filing in March. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Hewlett-Packard was one of a number of computer makers taken to court by Intermec on the issue of smart-battery technology.

“If you’re looking purely at laptop manufacturers, they’re the last one,” said Kevin McCarty, investor relations director for Everett-based Intermec, which specializes in rugged mobile computers, bar-code scanners and related products.

Embedded in portable computers and wireless phones, smart-battery technology uses a microprocessor chip to monitor and regulate battery use.

The most visible part of the technology is the little graphic on computer and cell phone screens that tells how much life is left before recharging is needed.

According to Intermec, the smart-battery patents it owns originated in 1982 with engineers at Iowa-based Norand Corp. Norand became part of Intermec in 1997.

Brim Tractor Co. acquires Everett store
Brim Tractor Co. recently acquired Coastline Tractor at 3512 Smith Ave., in Everett.

Brim Tractor, which has stores in Issaquah, Mount Vernon, Lynden, Sumner and Salem, Ore., features New Holland tractors ranging from compact tractors for residential acreage to large tractors used on full-time farms.

The Everett store also offers tractor attachments, such as loaders and blades. A service department is available for maintenance and repairs.

Clive Clark is the new manager for the Everett store.

For more information about the store, call 425-259-7181.

Goodwill to open second Everett store
Goodwill plans to open a new store at the site of the former Office Max, 228 SW Everett Mall Way, in Everett in late summer.

The new location will join Goodwill’s other Everett store at 3002 Hoyt Ave. in providing reusable items at affordable prices, the nonprofit organization said.

In addition, the new Everett store will be home to a Job Training and Education Center, which will enable Goodwill to provide its free programs and services to members of the Everett community who need help finding and keeping employment.

Goodwill’s job training and education programs helped more than 1,700 low-income individuals with barriers to employment last fiscal year, the organization said.

Seattle Goodwill has served the central and northern Puget Sound since 1923.

Tacoma Power chief to take helm of PUD
Steve Klein, the superintendent of Tacoma Power, will replace Ed Hansen as general manager of the Snohomish County PUD.

In March, the PUD commissioners offered the position Klein, who has run Tacoma Power since 1993.

During his tenure, Klein made Tacoma one of the first cities to build a publicly owned fiber coaxial cable system that offered broadband service and cable television.

Hansen, the PUD general manager for the past four years and a former two-term mayor of Everett, plans to retire June 30. He is expected to work with Klein until then.

In his new position, Klein will earn $243,277 annually.

Commission President Kathleen Vaughn said the group studied the pay for top power executives before setting that amount.

Klein is expected to start April 10.

HomeStreet seeks nonprofits
for Community Housing Awards

HomeStreet Bank in March launched its third annual HomeStreet Community Housing Awards search, with the program granting seven $10,000 awards to nonprofit community organizations serving housing-related needs.

Applications for the awards may be submitted through May 12, with organizations located in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston and Clark counties eligible in Washington state.

An eligible organization must be a 501(c)(3) that provides transitional or affordable rental housing, or helps people move along the path toward homeownership.

For more information about the HomeStreet Community Housing Awards, call 206-515-4069 or send e-mail to communityawards@homestreet.com.

County apprenticeship ordinance
signed into law

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon in March signed into law the county’s first apprenticeship ordinance, which sets county goals for apprentice labor at 15 percent to 20 percent on county construction projects costing more than $1 million, including roadwork.

Reardon’s decision to introduce the proposed ordinance to the County Council was based in part on the successful outcome of an apprentice pilot program used for the County Campus Redevelopment Initiative. From October 2002 to November 2005, 17 percent of total labor hours on this project were from approved state apprentice training programs. The original goal was set at 15 percent.

The apprenticeship program requires contractors to hire apprentices enrolled in training programs approved or recognized by the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.

County’s unemployment rate up
despite adding jobs

Snohomish County continued to add jobs at a strong rate in February, but its unemployment numbers went up, the state Employment Security Department reported.

During February, the county created an additional 900 jobs, mostly in construction and aerospace. But that didn’t stop it from adding 1,000 people to the jobless rolls, bringing the county’s unemployment rate to 4.9 percent, two-tenths of a percentage point higher than in January.

Donna Thompson, Snohomish County economist for the Employment Security Department, said the apparent contradiction of more jobs and higher unemployment is common during an economic upturn.

“This indicates that even though there are more jobs, more people are entering the labor force,” she said.

Thompson said the 900 jobs brought the county’s nonfarm employment total to 233,700, with a growth rate for the economy of 5.8 percent. That compares with the state’s growth rate of 3.5 percent. Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.8 percent. The entire state added 10,100 jobs in February.

Thompson said construction added 700 jobs; aerospace added 200; other manufacturing added 100; and government added 400.

Work in the trade, transportation and utilities sector dropped by 500 jobs, mostly at retail stores and car dealerships. Hotels and restaurants cut 300 jobs, and temporary agencies also dropped 300 positions.

AWB starts OSHA certification program
The Association of Washington Business is instituting a new certification program that will train people responsible for workers’ compensation and safety on the most important aspects of prevention and cost control.

The three-part series will take place several times throughout the year, with two days of in-class instruction and two online courses.

After successfully completing the curriculum, participants will receive an OSHA 10-Hour General Industry certificate and wallet card recognizing them as qualified employees, certificates of completion after each course and a reference manual full of OSHA compliance information and guidance.

The program will help employees learn to recognize differences between WISHA and OSHA, to structure and implement the elements of a successful health and safety program, to investigate accidents with an eye toward prevention, to recognize OSHA compliance issues and to manage workers’ compensation claims effectively.

For more information, call Alisha Boggs at 360-943-1600 or send email to alishab@awb.org.

Little Red School House receives grant
Little Red School House, a nonprofit organization that aids infants and young children facing developmental delays, recently received a $13,000 grant from the Northwest Children’s Fund.

The funding will enable Little Red, which also provides family counseling to address the challenges of caring for a special-needs child, to increase the number of families the group is able to serve.

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