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|Tuesday, March 22, 2011|
By Ilie MitaruUnited Streetcar was spun off of the 67-year-old Oregon Iron Works in 2004, with the goal of supplying American-made street cars to the nation, and abroad.
The impetus for the project came in 2005, when Congress approved a spending bill which included $4 million to Trimet for an American-made street car for the city of Portland. Oregon Iron Works created United Streetcar after winning the contract to manufacture the streetcar.
The company held a press conference Monday afternoon for reaching their American-made aspirations.
Well, almost. “We’re about 70% there” said United Streetcar President Chandra Brown, the Iron Works employee who led the spin-off effort and gathered support from elected officials. The company is currently in the process of replacing the remaining foreign parts from its design, and will be producing 90%-American-made by the end of the year, says Brown.
At this point, no one is sweating the details. It was a congratulatory mood as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood (pictured at left in the foreground, examining a streetcar component) and Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader toured the $4 million fabrication bay and test track at an industrial center in Clackamas.
“Of the $4 million spent on the testing plant,” Brown says, “we think it’s going to be recapped by the potentially hundreds of street cars we’ll build.” Brown says the company has $50 million in orders, with six cars slated for Portland and seven for Tucson, Arizona.
Since closing those deals United Streetcar has completed a new 43,000-square-foot streetcar assembly bay, a 3,100-square-foot streetcar track for on-site testing and a 6,400-square-foot environmental, functional and water testing bay.
In preparation for yesterday's event, United Streetcar installed a podium in front of a new streetcar scrolled with the words “Made In America.”
Brown opened by stressing the importance of state and federal funds for the project,
“We would not be here today without the help of the federal government.” She said the project proved that “it is absolutely possible to do a successful private/public partnership.”
Schrader, Defazio and Blumenauer each spoke briefly, congratulating the company and each other’s work on public transit.
“We in Oregon know that manufacturing jobs are the backbone to our economy,” said Schrader, “we want to export cars and services—not jobs—to the rest of the world.”
Transportation Secretary LaHood praised the “exceptional leadership” of Oregon’s representatives in advocating for public transit. “Streetcars have caught on in America,” he said “and now they will be built here in America.”
With the federal budget still unreconciled and varying versions of a future transportation bill floating through congress, how much federal assistance companies like Union Streetcar will receive remains unclear.
For now at least, the company can claim to be the first U.S.-based streetcar manufacturer in almost 60 years, and with orders filing in, the delegation was nothing if not optimistic.
Ilie Mitaru is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.
Friday, October 24, 2014
A majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Oregon Business magazine has named the sixth annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.
Friday, October 24, 2014
How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
BY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.
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Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
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