We're always on the lookout for bright spots on the economic development horizon, and it looks like West Richland might soon have one to brag about.
The idea of a building a new manufacturing plant for some of the fastest cars in the world right here in the Tri-Cities has a lot of appeal.
The proposal could become a reality if the state Community Economic Revitalization Board issues a grant/loan to a public private partnership between Shelby SuperCars and the city of West Richland.
The award would allow Shelby SuperCars to build an assembly plant on city land. The city would lease the property to the company.
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It's not a universally popular scheme. At least one reader has pointed out to us that these gas-guzzling toys for the ber-rich aren't the most eco-friendly contraptions.
That's a very grown-up point of view. Forgive us, but we've retained some of our teenaged reverence for powerful machines. We'll confess to being a little awestruck by what's planned for West Richland.
Jerod Shelby grew up in Richland and had a dream to create his own high-performance car. Lots of young men have similar visions of speed racers in their heads, but they diminish with adulthood and the distractions of daily life.
Shelby was able to bring his dream to fruition, creating the Ultimate Aero and setting a world speed record of 255 mph three years ago.
The headquarters for Shelby SuperCars are in West Richland, but components are produced in several states. Creating a manufacturing facility would allow all the work to be done in one place and create 47 new jobs over the next five years, a company spokesman said.
The city approached Shelby with its idea for funding. It is the first time West Richland has applied for CERB money. A decision is expected from the state board soon after its Jan. 20 meeting.
Shelby is already planning on his next generation car, scheduled to be released in 2012. He's working with renowned supercar designer Jason Castriota, which pulls a lot of credibility in high-performance circles.
Shelby SuperCars won't help address anyone's transportation problem. The MSRP is around the $650,000 mark, and next edition will run $840,000, according to the automotive media.
It just takes a quick Google search to realize that fast car aficionados are drooling over the Shelby SuperCars and can't wait for news of new developments.
For those of you who know a little something about cars, here are some quick stats on the Ultimate Aero:
w Zero to 60 mph: 2.78 seconds
w Fourth-mile: 9.90 seconds at 144 mph
w Zero to 100 mph to zero: 11.66
w Top speed (tested): 257.41
Sounds like fun. And even if we can't afford one, they sure are pretty to look at, like something a superhero should be driving in the next Hollywood movie. The cool factor for the Tri-Cities will go up a notch if the manufacturing facility is built in West Richland.
And cool factor aside, let's hope the state sees the value in loaning money to this public-private partnership.
When a small-business owner has risked it all on a dream and proved he can succeed, that's the kind of business we should help grow and foster.