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Rossi Makes Stop in Tri-Cities

July 22, 2008

By Pratik Joshi, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.

Jul. 22–Dino Rossi wants to help the Tri-Cities develop a post-Hanford economy.

“There is talent and knowledge base here. We need to keep it here,” said the gubernatorial candidate during a visit to Infinia Corp. headquarters in Kennewick.

Infinia provides innovative solar energy technology solutions. Its 3-kilowatt solar energy generating system attracted more than $50 million in private investment funding this year.

Rossi was impressed by Infinia’s patented Stirling engine technology and its latest product that taps into solar energy and will be ready for commercial production early next year.

Companies like Infinia need their vendors and suppliers to be located nearby but the present administration has failed to attract businesses to relocate in Washington, Rossi said.

The Tri-Cities needs other companies, which will draw from the area’s inherent strengths, to drive economic growth. But that’s not happening because of Washington’s anti-business attitude, he said.

The state’s high business and occupation tax rate and high workers’ compensation payout discourages potential entrepreneurs. Also, Washington has the third-highest small-business failure rate, Rossi said, adding he plans to change that if he wins the governor’s race.

“Forming capital for new business in the Tri-Cities is challenging,” said J.D. Sitton, Infinia president and chief executive officer. And, sometimes it’s difficult to recruit top-end talent, particularly for finance because they are afraid of being in the midst of a bubble economy, he said.

A concerted effort to fairly allocate resources to Eastern Washington will help the community prosper when Hanford budgets dry up, Sitton said. The establishment of Washington State University Tri-Cities was the step in the right direction, he said.

Washington can provide incentives, like other states, to bring in manufacturers and other businesses to fuel the economy. It’ll make sure the money that’s going to out-of-state suppliers stays within Washington. It’s about synergy and growth, Sitton said.

“We are killing off the next Bill Gates and Bill Boeing even before they can get up and running,” Rossi said.

w Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com

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Copyright (c) 2008, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.

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