Tacoma, Washington-based Tool Gauge, a manufacturer of complex, high-value plastic and metal assemblies for global aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier-1 aircraft interior integrators, has received a $125,000 Work Start grant awarded by the Washington State Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and non-profit small business manufacturing consultant Impact Washington. The grant from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund will assist Tool Gauge with the current major aerospace manufacturing facility expansion under way at its Tacoma site. It will specifically support workforce development programs, including the training of an estimated 100 new workers and the skills advancement of another 50 incumbent employees. The new facility, whose inauguration is planned for the fall of 2019, represents a total estimated investment of up to $20 million and will feature the following new manufacturing capabilities:
• An additional 80,000ft2 in the plastics division
• Expansion of plastics press size range
• Broadening of secondary operations to improve flow, ergonomic assembly
• Installation of a new, state-of-the-art vertical paint system
• An additional 2,000ft2 for CNC equipment in the metals division
• Implementation of multiple collaborative robots (cobots)
“The Tool Gauge team is very grateful to Governor Inslee, the state of Washington, the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, and Impact Washington for this amazing opportunity,” states Debbie Lee, CEO of Tool Gauge. “As we build our new world-class aerospace manufacturing facility, hiring and training new employees will remain our absolute priority which has been a central component of our success for over 50 years. As we continue our fast growth trajectory, we expect to create up to 100 new jobs by 2024, growing our workforce to approximately 235 employees in Pierce County.”
“Washington’s greatest competitive advantage for business recruitment and retention is the exceptional quality and depth of our workforce,” adds Chris Green, Commerce assistant director for economic development and competitiveness. “Continued investment in our people strengthens communities by providing employers a job-ready talent pool with the skills needed to operate technologically advanced equipment and thrive in a high-performance environment.”
“We believe that a good quality of life starts with a good job,” states Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County. “Tool Gauge’s investments mean more great jobs for Pierce County’s world-class aerospace workers.”
“Impact Washington is delighted to provide workforce training to support the growth and continued success of this world-class aerospace supplier in collaboration with our economic development partners,” concludes Tab Wilkins, Impact Washington president and center director.
Washington’s aerospace cluster employs more than 136,000 people in about 1,400 companies and generates nearly $70 billion in economic activity throughout the state. There is at least one aerospace-related company in 35 of the state’s 39 counties.
Follow the progress of Tool Gauge’s new aerospace manufacturing facility construction on its workzone cam.