Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

5 questions about the FLIR FX

The Latest
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
FLIR-FX-IndoorBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Wilsonville-based company is targeting GoPro enthusiasts with its latest release. Is spy gear poised to go mainstream?


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

VIDEO: The 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015

videothumbVIDEO: 2015 100 Best Companies to work for in Oregon


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


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