Friday, October 9, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Innovate or go home

When the VBJ profiled Joe Foggia’s new business venture last July, it was clear he was a man with a clearly-defined mission – getting his workers back on the job.

“He is passionate about rehiring his employees,” CREDC business recruitment director Jeanie Ashe said of Foggia at the time.

Like many other Southwest Washington employers, Foggia was forced to layoff a substantial portion of his workforce as president of Vancouver-based Christiansen Yachts.

As one might guess, the yacht industry hasn’t quite taken off in the last year, mostly due to a worldwide recession putting the brakes on much of the market for big-ticket luxury items. After seeing a vital part of his shipyard grind to a halt and returning from a half-empty boat show in Europe, Foggia was presented with two choices:

Innovate or go home.

Fortunately for the 200 people set to return to work at Christiansen’s Vancouver shipyard, Foggia chose the former. This week, the federal government awarded $1 million to Foggia’s brainchild, Renewable Energy Composite Solutions LLC, to transform part of Christiansen’s shipbuilding operations into a small wind turbine manufacturing plant.

“As a result, the company will now be creating jobs instead of shedding them, and will help ensure that Southwest Washington becomes a leader in renewable energy production and green job creation in the future,” said Congressman Brian Baird (D-Vancouver).

Set to begin operations shortly, RECS will hire 101 full-time and 99 temporary workers and help the state reach its goal of reducing energy consumption by 25 percent.

Now that’s what we call good news. Here’s for more of the same.