Just before the Port of Grays Harbor took ownership of Satsop Business Park in 2013, Alissa Shay was named manager of business development. She oversees the daily operations of the park, including business recruitment and retention. A Harbor native, Shay previously worked as a city planner for the City of Hoquiam and holds a master’s degree in public administration from The Evergreen State College. She lives in Montesano with her husband Brian. Their large family includes Brian’s daughters Rachel and Emily, two dogs, four cats and three chickens. She enjoys cooking, gardening, shopping local, volunteering and staying active with spin class at Monte Fitness and walking her dogs.
What’s the biggest project going on at Satsop right now?
This summer we expect to begin construction on our $3.95 million sewer rehabilitation project thanks to funding from the State of Washington and Grays Harbor County. The grant funding will replace aging infrastructure throughout the park and help ensure reliable and flexible service for our customers in the future. The original sewer system built to serve the park during construction in the 1970s was meant to be temporary. As the facility has grown and changed into a mixed use business park the sewer system was identified as a “weak link” and we believe this project is key to maintaining a high level of service to our customers.
What kinds of training exercises do you host?
We have the ability to host a variety of training exercises from indoors office training to industrial safety and military exercises. The 12-foot diameter water lines running from the Turbine Building to Cooling Tower 5 were converted into a live-fire training facility. Each year we host the Seattle Fire Department at our Tunnel Training Facility for a week-long exercise. For the past two years we have hosted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for the “Raven’s Challenge,” a week-long interagency training focused on live fire bomb disposal scenarios. This year we expect around 300 people to be on-site participating in the exercise.
Promoting workforce training in Grays Harbor and the surrounding region is an important component of the space we have to offer, and we have built relationships with the Northwest Laborers Employers Training Trust and Grays Harbor College to establish long-term training facilities at the Park. The CDL training program at Grays Harbor College is headquartered at Satsop, complete with classroom and field training space. We have further strengthened our commitment to workforce training through our relationship with Grays Harbor College where forestry program faculty and students manage our FSC Certified forest as a working forest and take the skills they gain here out into the workforce.
How is the NewWood situation developing? With monthly loan payments of $25,700 now, what’s the timeline on exploring other options aside from selling it off for scrap?
NewWood entered receivership in 2012, right before the Port acquired the Satsop Business Park, and for a full year the receiver attempted to attract a buyer for the assets with goal of finding an operator. After this attempt the Port ultimately purchased the assets in order to avoid liquidation and gain control of marketing the property as a whole. While NewWood had owned the equipment, the Port owns the land and buildings. At the time we purchased the assets we believed we had a potential operator, but unfortunately that did not move forward. In April we issued a Request for Proposals in an effort to formally market the facility and allow us to weigh proposals against one another. That effort did not produce results in the form of proposals, but it did generate interest from operators. Our goal has been and will continue to be an effort to find an operator with a solid business plan and financing package that will provide long-term employment opportunities in our region. Over the next few months we will continue to pursue interested operators. If unsuccessful by this fall, we will strategize on a path forward that could include liquidation. Regardless of the fate of the equipment assets, we will continue to have a valuable asset in the 255,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that could be used for any number of large-scale manufacturing operations.
What was it like having Transformers 4 shooting at the site last year? Can you give us any clues about scenes or landmarks we should look for?
Paramount Pictures was a fantastic company to work with. Our staff received quite an education about how film locations are chosen and the intricacies of a film production. Crews started arriving to begin building sets about two weeks before the actual shoot. The entire upper floor of our main building was converted into headquarters for a few days, and it was exciting to feel like Hollywood had been brought to us. One of my favorite memories was returning to our main office building after a meeting and finding a gentleman sewing a gigantic green screen in our cafeteria. While there is a possibility that the scenes filmed here will not be chosen for the final production, any that do get chosen will likely not be recognizable as the Satsop Business Park. Movie productions have the ability to “transform” anything.
Have you had any other film productions interested in using the park?
Over the past year we have had some interest from other productions ranging from one to two person crews to much larger. Seattle artist Etsuko Ichikawa used Cooling Tower 3 for her production titled “Echo at Satsop,” an artistic response to the Japan earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster.
How do you see the business park developing into the future? Will it still have an industrial focus or will there be more blending of other enterprises?
With the growth of the energy sector in the United States, we expect to see more opportunities for companies to utilize the assets at the Satsop Business Park to create jobs and economic development in Grays Harbor. We are rich in assets that help support industrial growth with our industrial water supply, natural gas supply, cooling water and of course plenty of room to grow. As manufacturing jobs continue to move back to the United States, we envision Satsop moving to center stage as a place for companies to grow. However, we also have 90,000 square feet of office space that is move-in ready coupled with four separate fiber connections serving the park and 99.99 percent power reliability, so we continue to see growth opportunities in the technological sector as well.