New business looks to expand to Royal City

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ROYAL CITY — Royal City is on the verge of getting another much-needed shot in the arm in its economy as Global Fiberglass Solutions, based in Bothell, is looking to open up shop in the very near future, bringing with it about 200 jobs to the community.

Don Lilly, owner of the company, presented a proposal to expand his state and international fiberglass recycling operation to Grant County during a public forum meeting with the Port of Royal Slope recently.

“We (the port) originally met Don about a year and a half ago,” Cathy Potter, executive director of the Port of Royal Slope, said. “He intrigued us when he told us that he recycles fiberglass such as in window frames and wind tower blades that would normally go into a landfill, and that his business comes with about 250 green jobs — environmentally friendly jobs. He also talked about rail service, and quite possibly could be the anchor for the rail line.”

About 50 people showed up at the meeting, including Rep. Matt Manweller, along with Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislative assistant Hannah Castro, Grant County Commissioner Cindy Carter and Royal City Councilman Gary Fanning.

“This is exciting news for the economic development in Royal City and Grant County as up to 200 manufacturing jobs would pay slightly higher than minimum wage and that’s a positive thing,” Manweller said. “The ultimate boon here is Royal City needed an opportunity to diversify its economy. Kids growing up there may not want to be farmers and would have to move out of the area for work. Now, with the possible addition of Global Fiberglass, they have the option of living and working in their hometown and not having to farm if they don’t want to.”

Potter favors the idea of adding businesses that can make a huge impact on the local economy like the potential Global Solutions has, and adds it’s the responsibility of the port to do so by making sure the pieces are in place to do just that.

“Port districts are charged with economic development. We do this by acquiring the necessary infrastructure and amenities to retain and grow our local businesses and to start up new businesses to create jobs,” she said. “We have an industrial park that we have made ready for businesses by building roads and putting in a water system — power and fiber optics are close. Our latest big project was returning rail service to Royal.”

The biggest obstacle to bringing in a company that recycles fiberglass is gaining the trust of local ag business owners who expressed concerns at the meeting regarding the environmental impact. Specifically, food processors nearby are worried about fiberglass dust getting in the air and damaging crops.

Engineers from Global Solutions were at the meeting as well to explain to farmers the recycling process, and assured them it would take place in a “clean room” which would eliminate the possibility of dust escaping into the air.

“I visited their plant in Bothell,” Manweller said. “The recycled fiberglass arrived in a vacuum-sealed rail car and was vacuumed out inside the building and placed inside a sealed machine to be processed, thereby eliminating the possibility of dust escaping into the atmosphere.”

Some of the products made from the recycled fiberglass include pallets, manhole covers and counterweights for washing machines. One of their proud creations, Potter said, is a panel board that is similar to OSB. Test have shown the product, she said, “to be more fire and water resistant.”

There are still a bunch of hoops to jump through including obtaining the necessary permits from the DOE and EPA before the 30,000-square-foot facility is built and up and running.

But Potter is already imagining what the pros of bring Global Fiberglass Solutions to Royal City are.

“There would be year-round good paying jobs, more people will move here (hopefully), which will create more housing development,” she said. “This will help the retail businesses here — gas stations, grocery stores, the bank, golf course, the parts supply house — by increasing their customer base, et cetera. Hopefully, we could get a motel built here and maybe a fast food restaurant. Additional development increases the tax revenue for the city, the port, the fire department, the cemetery district and the school district as well.”

As for the cons, “some people don’t like change – they wonder, do we have the capacity for additional growth in the city?”

Manweller added the next step in the process to bring the facility to Grant County rests upon the shoulders of the Port of Royal Slope and Global Fiberglass Solutions.

“They’re going to have to gain the trust of the local ag community. Once that’s done they can move forward with bringing the business to Royal City.”

Lilly, the company owner, is currently out of the country and has been unavailable for comment.

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