SEL to build event center

This photo shows the proposed location of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory's new, 80,000 square foot event center.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories will build a new 80,000-square-foot event center for corporate and community events that could hold as many as 1,400 people.

SEL announced Monday morning the new building, set to be located on the southeast section of SEL’s Pullman campus, will be nearly four times the size of the company’s current event center.

The project is still in its design phase and construction is expected to begin in late 2019 and finish in 2021.

Stephanie Schweitzer, SEL vice president of Marketing and Communications, said there is not yet an estimated cost available.

The current event center was built 13 years ago and, with room for 500 people, is already too small to accommodate demands, Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer said since 2006, the company has grown in size to the point that the current event center is less suited to hold corporate meetings where hundreds of people attend.

The event center is also rented out to nonprofit organization for events, and Schweitzer said there is a demand among those organizations for a bigger space. Schweitzer said the current demand is high enough that the facility is not always available for rent.

The Pullman Nonprofit Showcase, the annual Pullman Chamber of Commerce Cabaret and the Whitman County Humane Society Fur Ball and Yappy Hour are among the community events that take place at the event center.

The current event center is not going anywhere, however. Schweitzer said the company is evaluating future possibilities for the space, such as community-minded projects.

Kate Wilhite, spokeswoman for SEL, said the company decided years ago to open its event center doors to the public not only to assist the community, but to make good use out of the building.

She said SEL values being a good partner to the community and saw the event center as piece of infrastructure that would not otherwise be available to nonprofits and city organizations.

“The number of nonprofits taking advantage of this space, it makes employee owners feel really good,” she said.

The campus has seen steady expansion over the years. Since 2015, there have been four buildings constructed in Pullman, including two research and development buildings, an assembly center and a family center.

SEL has commissioned Bernardo Wills of Spokane to design the building and the SEL construction team will manage the construction. The company has worked with Bernardo Wills on two previous building projects.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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