A company with a focus on powering supercomputers has set its sights on Longview, Washington as its potential location for operations. Both the company and the Longview City Council agree the move would pump additional economic activity into the local community and pave the way for future industrial investment.
Last month, the city council gave British Columbia-based MiningSky, Inc. conditional approval for the Fisher’s Lane property, which is located at the edge of the Columbia River. The site is where the city’s old water treatment facility for municipal water supply was operated.
According to Longview City Councilmember Mike Wallin, the site is dilapidated with unusable tanks and pipes. He added that engineers estimate it would cost millions of dollars to demolish the structures and make the site usable again.
“We would love to see some industrial development in Longview. We are hungry for industrial…and manufacturing growth, and we would love more jobs.
“We are really excited by this perspective tenant, MiningSky, because around the state and the nation we are seeing a lot of tech industries start up and develop and grow. We don’t really have that in Longview.”
Wallin added the community is “hungry for jobs and growth,” especially tech jobs.
“We believe this could be the door that opens this industry and the first step to attract some of those industries to our area.”
Wallin said the company showed interest in the location because of the existing electrical infrastructure in place from the treatment plant.
Eric Lundgren, Chief Operating Officer for the company, told The Daily News that the business would power supercomputers by harnessing leftover power plant energy and storing it in “hosting cubes.”
“When we plant ourselves, we have to make sure we are staying long-term,” Lundgren said. “This is a long-term play and you need to have a good imagination because that facility needs a lot of work.”
The business would bring some 8,000 supercomputers to the new location within the first 35 days, according to Lundgren. To run its operations, the company will hire local contractors, welders and information technology (IT) technicians.
“We’re starting in Longview and hopefully we can stay in Longview.”
Lundgren estimated that the company would create between 30 and 100 jobs, depending on how much power the Cowlitz Public Utility Department (PUD) allows. The business projects an average hourly wage of $20, which would rise to close to $100 for specialists.
Currently the site’s location is classified as a single-family residential zone under the city’s comprehensive plan. According to Wallin, the city is contemplating changing the zoning of the site to open it up for several uses, including apartments with a view of the Cowlitz River.
Once the lease is finalized, city council staff will work with the planning commission to consider the zoning changes. The parties would then put together draft language and consider recommendations before proceeding.
Wallin said he expects the city to decide to make the area a general commercial zone because it would help the potential tenant and allow for local amenities such as retail spaces and residential spaces above commercial buildings.
He added that MiningSky will make tremendous investments and improvements to the property which will have lasting effects on the local economy. “You take a property with no tax value or tax benefit and turn it into a tax-paying property.”
The city is currently trying to finalize the lease so the company can secure the property. There isn’t currently a timeline, however Wallin said he expects there to be developments on the lease over the next few weeks.
“We hope others can see the potential. We experienced this with the timber product industry where a lot of suppliers and the entire supply chain supports that industry.
“We are hopeful in the same regard for this industry that we can really build additional opportunities in that field. The hope is that it ignites the interest of locals in that field.”