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Washington Retains Plants, Jobs

In Washington State, International Absorbents is nearing completion of a 100,000-sq.-ft. (9,300-sq.-m.) facility in Bellingham that will consolidate a number of functions under one roof. The company, a manufacturer of environmentally friendly pet care and industrial products, will realize cost savings of $150,000 per year in terminated lease payments, utility and incidental costs.
        Adds the company's chairman, Gordon Ellis, "As important, we are eliminating many costly logistics inefficiencies. We are now better able to focus on streamlining internal procedures, including inventory management."
        Simmons Co., the Atlanta-based bedding manufacturer, is completing work on a new manufacturing plant in Sumner, Wash., one of three such facilities under construction nationwide. The Sumner facility will employ about 140 when operational.

Vancouver On Call

British Columbia, particularly the Vancouver metro area, is enjoying growth in its customer-contact industry as it nurtures another industry – biotechnology – to maturation. Two recent call center projects have the capacity to add 400 jobs to the economy. Denver, Colo.-based Istonish has expanded its Vancouver call center by 325 positions. And Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft has opened a 75-person support and development facility in Vancouver.
        Research commissioned by the Vancouver Economic Development Commission, BC Biotech and Discovery Parks in late 2002 concludes that the Vancouver area is remarkably strong as a center of biotech commercialization relative to U.S. cities. However, it does not score as high as a center of research due to what it perceives to be a shortage in research funding. The study is based on analysis of 51 U.S. markets' strengths as biotechnology centers as reported in "Signs of Life: The Growth of Biotechnology Centers in the U.S.," released by the Brookings Institution in June 2002.
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