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Gresham didnt lose out on Solexant

The reported demise of the Solexant Corp. deal to bring thin-film solar cell manufacturing to Gresham may be - as yet - premature.

Correspondence between Solexant and the Oregon Department of Energy appears to leave open the possibility that the project could move forward, even if it must wait until late-2012 or mid-2013. Will it happen? That's anyone's guess.

What we do know is this: Solexant missed its payment deadlines on its initial loan fees, which were needed to lock in a $25 million loan from the Department of Energy. A letter from the Department of Energy, ending the loan agreement, leaves open the option that Solexant could re-apply.

We hope Solexant overcomes the obstacles that stand in the way of this project because the company's decision to build in Gresham could mean anywhere from 100 to 1,000 jobs and place East County at ground zero of an emerging industry.

During these troubled economic times, it would be all too tempting to criticize the city of Gresham and its mayor, Shane Bemis, for raising hopes of job creation and other local investments, only to see them crash and burn.

In the event this project has truly died, we hope folks resist the effort to heap blame on anyone.

We're grateful the Department of Energy was wise enough to end this loan process, making those funds available for ready-to-go projects elsewhere in the state.

Likewise, the city of Gresham hasn't lost a dime on this project, demonstrating strong stewardship of local resources.

It was Mayor Bemis who got this project off the ground when he traveled to Germany in 2009, stepping into the business of selling Gresham's virtues as a destination for green industries.

Through this process, Bemis and city staffers have gained valuable insights into pitching Gresham to the broader global marketplace. While Solexant might disappear - or not - the city of Gresham will be better prepared for similar endeavors in the months and years to come.

We don't know where this will end, but we do know that when nothing is ventured, it's likely nothing will be gained. And we applaud the city of Gresham and its mayor for a gutsy effort, no matter how it turns out.