Home to such manufacturing titans as Boeing and PACCAR, equipped with a workforce of 54,000, and positioned mere miles from a major airport and two prominent ports, Renton seems perfectly poised to become a production hub of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.
In a vote Monday, the Renton City Council unanimously passed a resolution prioritizing a possible COVID-19 manufacturing facility and authorizing the city’s community and economic development staff to explore all avenues to bring the plan to fruition.
“Renton is already known as one of the nation’s manufacturing hubs and is the Northwest’s leader in health care,” Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone said in a statment. “The ideal location will need a combination of manufacturing capacity, experience in health care, a well-trained workforce, and proximity to multiple modes of transportation. Renton has all that as well as a pro-business attitude.”
Spurred by the urging of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — which has pledged up to $250 million for research toward developing a vaccine — the City of Renton is being proactive, implementing plans for production and global distribution now rather than waiting for the vaccine to be ready.
“When you are dealing with a novel pathogen like COVID-19, as and when we get to identifying a successful vaccine, we are going to need billions of doses,” Gates Foundation Chief Executive Mark Suzman said in a statement. “There are 7 billion people on the planet. We are going to need to vaccinate nearly everyone. There is no manufacturing capacity to do that.”
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who has been a supporter of the plan, said it could help put some of King County’s recently unemployed — nearly 170,000 individuals in the last four weeks — back on the job.
“Now is the time to put our focus on the future,” Dunn said in a statement. “At a time when we are seeing record unemployment, the establishment of this industry in Renton and King County could counter the trend and provide much needed new jobs.”
Experts, such as those at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimate a COVID‐19 vaccine could be made in approximately 12 to 18 months.
To review the resolution in full, click here.