“Drone boat for military to be built in Bothell factory,” the Seattle Times reported yesterday. “Sounds like an article I should skim,” says I, while watching the Phillies and Eagles soar to victory. But then skim I did, and gladly so. Because there are at least three really important things here:
1) The growing military cluster: We’ve talked a lot here at the Prosperity Blog about the potential for growth in this cluster, particularly in terms of contracting (remember, while Washington ranks 7th among states in terms of military personnel, we rank a much lower 23rd in our receipt of defense contract dollars.) So it’s great to see that we’re making strides here, even attracting companies from other states to do work here (more on that in #3).
2) We like our vehicles “unmanned”: I’ve definitely mentioned the growing importance of unmanned aerial vehicles, so it’s cool to learn that we’re also becoming a place to build unmanned boats (unmanned surface vessels or USVs to be accurate). It’s an interesting niche, but something to definitely create an expertise around, since it’s clearly a growing market. BTW, in a related note, did you see that Boeing is taking the lead on creating “green” UAVs (or GUAVAs, as I’m going to try to get them to be called). They’ve developed both biofuel and solar powered UAVs, with the goal of keeping one up in the air for five straight years! Clearly this is in-line with the military’s interest in reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and again is a great niche for the Pacific Northwest to get into, since we’re already know for sustainability and clean tech. If we can become the national center for the production of green, unmanned vehicles, it’s a huge advantage for our military cluster and our clean tech cluster.
3) Manufacturing in Puget Sound makes sense: And I quote, “Manufacturing will be done here because proximity to an ocean port was important and because of the growing local expertise in working with composites, at Boeing, boatbuilders and other manufacturers.” I’ve said a million times that it’s ridiculous when people tell me “you can’t manufacture here.” First of all, we have a ton of manufacturing in this region. Second, it’s clear from the above quote that we have a lot of strengths that people need for manufacturing, regardless of land and labor prices. Geography and a trained workforce count for a lot, and are things we can continue to build a manufacturing industry around.
So, in summary, fascinating article, and Philadelphia sports teams are great.