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A Healthy Marriage

Editorial for July 31, 2008

A healthy marriage

The purchase of Insitu by Boeing is not a huge surprise. Boeing and Insitu -- Insitu will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing once the transaction is finalized -- have been working closely together since 2002, and it is a natural progression to combine them into one efficient unit. That's just good business, and it should benefit Boeing and Insitu alike.

Boeing, of course, is a world-class business with a strong and proud history, and the interest Boeing has in Insitu is clearly a very positive indication of the importance of Insitu's work. For several years now, Insitu's engineers have been on the cutting-edge of unmanned aerial vehicle technology.

The Bingen-based company's growth has been incredible. In 1994, the company began as virtually a one-man show. Tad McGeer, who currently lives in Husum, had a vision of the uses of unmanned aerial platforms. McGeer saw applications that included tracking weather systems and locating fish for fishing fleets. His creation grew, slowly at first, then exponentially.

From a handful of employees, the company has exploded to more than 360, and has outgrown several buildings in the process.

Multi-million dollar contracts with the federal government have become relatively common in recent years, as military and security applications of the diminutive airborne platforms have been expanded.

We've seen military personnel from Australia and other nations here for training in our community at times, providing an intriguing international flavor and sophistication few small towns experience.

The influx of highly-skilled and highly-paid employees has greatly boosted revenues for many local businesses. And, on the not so beneficial side, the construction of upscale homes to house Insitu employees has helped push local housing prices higher.

Naturally, many in the community are concerned about what the deal might ultimately lead to. Will Insitu eventually be relocated to Seattle, or to Chicago? Will the once-empty storefronts in downtown White Salmon and Bingen that Insitu has made into active and attractive facilities again be shuttered?

There is every indication that Insitu will in fact be increasing its footprint in the community, not decreasing it, and reinforcing its commitment to the Bingen-White Salmon area. But the transaction by Boeing inevitably opens the door to questions about the possibility of a move elsewhere.

We are proud that home-grown Insitu has taken this final step from a fledgling to a major industrial player in an innovative field, and we believe this purchase will not lead to the loss of what has been one of the fastest-growing and successful companies this area has even seen.

But we will sure miss being able to write articles in which we can brag about "Bingen-based Insitu." Writing lines like "Insitu's parent company is headquartered in Chicago" just won't have the same flavor.

On the other hand, "Boeing" sure has a nice ring to it, and it will be fascinating to witness the changes this transition will bring to the Bingen/White Salmon community.

JB

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