Home The Latest United Streetcar on track with made-in-USA production

United Streetcar on track with made-in-USA production

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

By Ilie Mitaru

United 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.




 

Comments   

 
Jacq
0 #1 P-towns uniteJacq 2011-03-22 22:08:16
"Brown says the company has $50 million in orders, with six cars slated for Portland and seven for Tucson, Arizona."

Fascinating fact. It is interesting because Phoenix has already decided to follow a Portland model for its transportation and green initiatives. It would be fascinating to investigate the other Portland copy-cats: Portland's successes and the other cities that are following Portland's example.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

From the Editor: The human factor

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.


Read more...

Revolution in print, pixels and passion

News
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
RyanFrankNewsBY MARK BLAINE | OB BLOGGER

The publisher of the Emerald Media Group moves on, leaving a cutting edge media group that depends on business acumen for its survival.


Read more...

How to boost web traffic

News
Thursday, April 10, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY  | OB WEB EDITOR

04.10.14 thumb seo-trafficSEMpdx hosted a workshop this week for entrepreneurs, website developers and others interested in search engine optimization (SEO).  Here are a few tips and tricks aimed at bumping up your search engine rankings.


Read more...

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...

The 2014 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon

News
Friday, February 28, 2014

100best14logo ThumbnailThe 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Read more...

Green eyeshades in the ivory tower

News
Friday, April 04, 2014
EducationCosts BlogBY ERIC FRUITS

The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS