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bill lindsay and jeff ritterman

Thanks Richmond, now wait for Berkeley lab decision

on October 28, 2011

The long courting process is all but over, and now it’s time to wait for a decision.

Two of Richmond’s foremost leaders took a moment Friday morning to send off thank-you letters to hundreds of residents who have helped encourage the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to open a new facility in Richmond.

City Manager Bill Lindsay and Councilmember Jeff Ritterman dropped in to City Hall’s third floor conference room at about 10:30 a.m. City Manager’s office staff members Shasa Curl, the senior development manager, and Sustainability Associate Jennifer Ly arranged about 300 “thank you” postcards and a poster containing about 300 more names of people who used the city’s web site welcome letter template to appeal to the LBNL.

jeff ritterman, bill lindsay, shasa curl, jennifer ly

Jeff Ritterman, foreground, looks over a poster showing names of residents who have participated in the outreach to bring LBNL to Richmond. (photo by: Robert Rogers)

“The community has enthusiastically supported the lab coming here from the start,” Ritterman said. “The community unity we demonstrated in putting this effort forward has been wonderful.”

Both men said they expect a decision from the lab in late November.

The process of finding a new site began last year. In Richmond, there have been countless public meetings, official briefings, studies and public awareness drives.

Six cities have emerged as contenders, with each following its own strategy for luring the LBNL and its promised economic and social benefits.

In Richmond, the effort has included the letter-writing campaign and well-attended town hall meetings. Many observers see Richmond and Alameda as frontrunners.

LBNL is a research institute that focuses on advanced scientific research. It has outgrown its Berkeley campus and is looking to expand to include a new lab in the Bay Area. The new site will fuel more than $200 million in economic activity, including numerous jobs involved in building the site as well as new restaurants, cafes and other businesses. About 800 workers, mostly highly -skilled researchers and scientists, would work at the site. Richmond’s bid would put the new site at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station, which lays between the Richmond Annex and Marina Bay neighborhoods.

The effort has been worth it, Lindsay said.

“This would be a real game changer for Richmond. Having the number 1 national lab involved in such an important field of energy here in Richmond would be tremendous,” Lindsay said. “I think we have the best site. I am optimistic. I hope they reach the same conclusion.”

Ritterman noted that the city’s unemployment rate hovers around 18 percent, and said that a major economic catalyst like the lab could significantly reduce that number.

Ritterman had special praise for city staff and interns, including Curl, Ly and City Council intern David Gray, for their sustained efforts to help Richmond best present itself as the right fit for LBNL.

“In the end I I look at the effort all these people put forward for over a year,” Ritterman said. “I am very pleased and satisfied that we have done everything possible to woo LBNL.”

More about the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Richmond

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