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Path to the White House: SolarBee to be recognized as rural success

Ron Crail of Dickinson-based SolarBee Inc. builds a GS-12, which circulates water in portable water tanks Friday at the SolarBee main office. SolarBee will be recognized as a successful rural manufacturer Friday, Feb. 17, at the White House in Washington D.C.

A Dickinson company has been named a "rural manufacturing success," earning it a ticket to Washington D.C. in one week, officials said Friday.

SolarBee Inc. has accepted an invitation from the White House and the U. S. Department of Agriculture to attend the "Recognition of Manufacturing Success in Rural America" event, which will be held Friday, Feb. 17. SolarBee co-founder and president Joel Bleth will be attending the event as a representative.

"It's a real honor for me to go and represent the company," he said. "I think the whole company is proud to be recognized."

The recognition stems off of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address presented Jan. 24, said Samantha Evenson, USDA Rural Development spokeswomen in Bismarck, adding he wanted to focus on manufacturing success in rural America.

She added the company was at the top of the list.

"I think that is something that you see is very difficult is having these kinds of successful businesses in a smaller community," she said. "To see somebody and a success story like this in SolarBee ... is a really big deal."

Two White House officials will speak at the event, which will last more than two hours.

Evenson said one company from each state could potentially go, but they did not have the final numbers on who was attending.

SolarBee could not have been recognized without the USDA Rural Development loan, Bleth said, adding, "Their work is an example of federal government at its best."

SolarBee has great employees, Bleth said, adding the company could not have gotten the award without them.

"They all work hard, and I hope and think that they all consider it their own individual recognition as well because they earned it," he said.

SolarBee is an international company that manufactures machines to improve water quality through solar energy. It has machines in almost all 50 states and 15 countries, including France, Mexico, China and Australia.

SolarBee employs more than 70 people including scientists, engineers, and factory-trained service technicians in Dickinson, according to a press release. SolarBee also has seven U.S. regional offices from coast to coast and an international sales office in Fargo.

Bleth said he hopes the company will continue to grow and solve problems with green technology, and, with a bright future, eventually expand to 1,000.