Spokane Journal of Business

Schweitzer Engineering plans big new building in Midwest

Facility near Purdue University could employ 300 people

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Pullman, Wash.-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. says it plans to build a 100,000-square-foot electrical power and research facility near Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. that could generate 300 or more jobs there.

The Schweitzer expansion, called SEL Purdue, will conduct electrical power research and development in the new facility, the company announced in a press release today, April 19.

The new space is designed to hold up to 300 employees, and the number and types of workers will increase as the company's business needs grow and change, the release says.

Schweitzer invents, designs, and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids. In addition to its Pullman headquarters, Schweitzer also operates out of a 28,000-square-foot building at 13518 E. Indiana in Spokane Valley.

An employee-owned company, Schweitzer has manufactured products in the U.S. since 1984. Schweitzer employs more than 5,200 workers around the world.

"We're excited to establish a larger presence in the Midwest," says Schweitzer founder Edmund O. Schweitzer III, who is also an alumni of Purdue University.

The facility will be built in the Purdue Discovery Park District next to the Purdue Airport. West Lafayette sits near the halfway point between Chicago and Indianapolis.

"This new facility will enable us to enhance the service we provide to our customers in the area, and we will benefit from the proximity to Purdue by both research and the talent pool the university provides," Schweitzer says in the release.

"There is a high demand for power engineering, and this initiative will help us meet those demands," he says.

SEL Purdue will be built on 10 acres of a 20-acre plot near a new Rolls Royce facility in West Lafayette. Groundbreaking is expected to occur this summer, and the site is large enough to accommodate a second building in the future.

Schweitzer and his wife, Beatriz Schweitzer, also announced plans to donate money to support the pipeline of innovation at Purdue University, with $1.5 million going to the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering for an endowed professorship, and another $1.5 million to support the school's power and energy systems research area.

Says Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in a release, "This multifaceted strategic investment of Ed and Beatriz Schweitzer and SEL with Purdue is about more than job creation, although that is a very important factor for everyone. It is also the support for advancing research and development, funding research facilities and taking advantage of the exciting Discovery Park District vision."

A native of Northbrook, Ill., Schweitzer earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue in 1968 and 1971, respectively. The Purdue School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the largest in the U.S. and is consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Schweitzer earned his doctorate from Washington State University, served as professor there, and left WSU in 1982 to focus on growing what at the time was a fledgling business

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