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GPI in the Press

Why Element Six chose Greater Portland

August 05,2019 | By National Jeweler

This article from trade magazine National Jeweler details the factors that led to De Beers subsidiary Element Six's decision to build the first U.S. Lightbox manufacturing facility in Greater Portland. GPI is proud to have supported this business recruitment effort, along with state, local, port and utility partners. The $94 million facility will initially employ about 60 full-time engineers, technicians and others.

De Beers started planning for Lightbox 2 1/2 years ago. It originally identified 199 countries that could be a fit for a new diamond-growing facility, then knocked that down to 47, then to 20, then to six: Estonia, Canada, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Among the company’s biggest concerns was having an affordable, steady power supply for the plant—losing power for even a split-second can cost a diamond-grower hundreds of thousands of dollars, Lightbox CEO Steve Coe explained—and being able to attract qualified candidates to work there. Climate also plays a role, as lower average temperatures make the water cooling of a diamond-growing facility easier.

Ultimately, De Beers chose the U.S. and narrowed it down to two locations—Gresham and a site near Spokane, Washington, 340 miles to the northeast on the Washington-Idaho border. While both Washington state (where the Diamond Foundry is opening a new diamond-growing facility) and Oregon offer cool climates and affordable hydroelectric power, The Beaver State ultimately won out because of the depth of the talent pool in Portland and Gresham’s proximity to a major airport.

Read the full story here.

Read our 2018 announcement here.

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