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New factory for fast cars in West Richland may bring more jobs within 5 years

The founder of Shelby SuperCars is teaming up with West Richland to seek a $828,728 state loan that will help build a new factory to turn out the next generation of Ultimate Aeros.

The private-public partnership applied for the state Community Economic Revitalization Board grant/loan with plans to build a manufacturing facility on land purchased with the money.

Jerod Shelby has his headquarters in West Richland, with production of components done elsewhere in Washington, Arizona and California.

Being able to have all operations in one place will help Shelby take his vision for the car company's future to the next level.

Junis Kahn, Shelby SuperCars' spokesman, said consolidating operations to one facility would create 47 new jobs within five years.

"We are excited about being able to work with the state on this," Kahn said. "This will enable us to bring everything together under one roof

Ruth Swain, West Richland's economic development coordinator, said a decision from the state board is just weeks away.

"We're expecting to hear something just after the board meets Jan. 20," said Swain, who noted that this is West Richland's first application for CERB funds.

She said she approached Shelby with the proposal after learning about the financing opportunity earlier this year. "We are so excited about their success and this opportunity," Swain said.

Shelby, who grew up in Richland and lives in West Richland, created the high-performance, high priced cars as a home-grown dream come true.

His Ultimate Aero set a world speed record three years ago as the fastest production car on the planet at 255 mph.

He announced a year ago that he was ready to take his innovations in automobile design to the next level. With world famous car designer Jason Castriota penned to create the second generation Ultimate Aero, Shelby hinted at something to come that would ensure greater success for his company.

Benton County commissioners showed their support with a letter to the state earlier this month.

"Shelby has made remarkable progress in developing his company in Benton County, and we would like to see his firm not only remain in our area ... but also expand upon his product base," wrote Commission Chairman Jim Beaver.

The application claims the loan not only will benefit Shelby's company and add new jobs, but also will kick-start additional industrial development within West Richland and substantially leverage both public and private investment.

The grant would be used to buy land and add infrastructure. Shelby SuperCars would build the facilities, and the city would lease the developed land to the company, Swain said. The lease payments would then pay back the loan.

Shelby's interest in high-performance automobiles began with his love of go-kart racing as a youth. He continued to dream about creating the ultimate super car while attending the University of Washington, and later while co-founding a medical device company, AIT.

The result was an optical sonography imaging system for which he was a principal in designing the holographic recording and reconstruction apparatus, and preparing the patents for the device.

Shelby founded the car company in 1999 and by 2007 had seen his Ultimate Aero become the world's fastest production car as verified by Guinness World Records.

Shelby also has developed an electric drive train, which he plans to include as a future product.

John Trumbo: 582-1529;