Kent-based Blue Origin keeps on growing its aerospace business in town as well as other companies.
“I do not have a lot of details but Puget Sound Business Journal recently reported they are leasing 210,000 square feet of warehouse space,” said Bill Ellis, city economic development manager, about Blue Origin.
Ellis said the warehouses will be at the Pannatoni Business Center, property formerly owned by Boeing nears its Space Center in Kent. Pannatoni plans to eventually build an industrial park comprised of six separate warehouse and manufacturing buildings totaling approximately 807,897 square feet in floor area, with associated parking, landscaping, utilities, stormwater facilities and street improvements, according to city of Kent documents.
The business center property is east of 62nd Avenue South and west of 68th Avenue South; between South 199th Street and South 208th Street.
Ellis said he’s uncertain how Blue Origin plans to use the warehouse space, but the expansion is good news.
“It’s a very positive sign for the city of Kent and Kent Valley for Blue Origin to continue to spend money and grow and add employees,” Ellis said.
Blue Origin’s media contacts did not yet respond to a Kent Reporter email for comment about the expansion.
According to job postings on Blue Origin’s website, there are 833 open positions in Kent for engineers, technicians and other jobs.
The company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.
Blue Origin launched its first rides into space in 2021 and eventually plans to have people living and working in space.
The company was selected late last year by NASA for a $130 million contract to help develop designs of space stations and other commercial destinations in space. The agreements with Blue Origin and two other companies for a total of $415 million are part of the agency’s efforts to enable a robust, American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit, according to a Dec. 2 NASA news release.
New aerospace companies
Starfish Space and Stoke Space Technologies are two newer Kent Valley companies started by former Blue Origin engineers.
“Higher tech companies are looking to the Kent Valley and that type of industry is growing,” Ellis said.
Starfish Space, founded in 2019 by Austin Link and Trevor Bennett, recently raised $7 million to put toward developing a space tug to drag satellites in and out of orbit, Ellis said during a Jan. 4 report to the Kent City Council.
“They got funding in September and have dozens of new employees and positions,” Ellis said.
Stoke Space Technologies has raised $65 million to deliver satellites directly to their final orbit by using reusable rockets, according to its website. Stoke’s co-founders are Andy Lapsa and Tom Feldman.
“Securing $65 million is strong growth and we are seeing a new space economy that coattails or spin-offs other economic activity,” Ellis said. “We are starting to see that. We have a long history of space in the Valley but new companies are joining Blue Origin and Boeing.”
The expansion of Blue Origin also helps other manufacturers in the area because it purchases parts from them, Ellis said.
“It’s all very positive for the Kent space valley,” he said.