There will soon be one less empty storefront in downtown White Salmon, and another growing company with ties to The Insitu Group is the reason why.
Following its purchase by Sagetech Corp., the former Elkhorn Bar & Grill will soon have a new mission, and here's a hint: It won't be a bar this time around.
Sagetech is a small engineering firm that is currently based in Hood River, but Hood River's loss will soon be White Salmon's gain.
"Why are we coming here? In a word, Insitu," said Sagetech owner Kelvin Scribner.
Scribner described Sagetech as an electronics engineering and design firm with government research contracts. The company's focus is avionics, with a particular focus on unmanned aerial vehicles -- Insitu's bread and butter business.
"Sagetech provides a variety of electronics engineering services to Insitu -- mostly electronic system components for the aircraft," explained Tabitha Orlando, a spokesperson for Insitu.
"I started working with Insitu early on, since around 1993-94," Scribner added.
Sagetech currently employs about 35, and that number could soon go to 40, Scribner said.
According to Scribner, the Elkhorn space offers about 6,500 square feet of space. Sagetech's current site in Hood River has only 5,000 square feet, and the business is outgrowing that venue.
"We've been looking for additional space and we wanted to be closer to Insitu," Scribner said, adding that there was a bit more to it.
"We actually felt unwelcome in Hood River," he explained. "We were running our business out of a barn, and the county filed a grievance against us, telling us we were out of compliance. I felt we were more welcome in White Salmon, and most of our staff is moving to the White Salmon area. We're happy to find a place that actually wants us."
The addition of family-wage jobs -- and the benefits of making the downtown business district more vibrant -- was not lost on White Salmon Mayor David Poucher.
"Thank you so much for choosing White Salmon. We appreciate it," said Poucher.
"It's nice to see another business come to Klickitat County," added Orlando.
The relocating business plans to move into the former Elkhorn property in late summer, but transforming a tavern into an engineering facility will require some work.
"We're going to have to invest a lot of money into remodeling," Scribner said. "We'll fix up the building and give it a bit of a facelift. Our main message to the community is, we're conscientious and have family-wage jobs, and want to be a responsible, good neighbor."