World-Class Center for R&D and Training Underway

AOC District 7 Meets on Future Site in Scappoose

Contributed by Gil Riddell, AOC Policy Director

September 23, 2016

State Senator Betsy Johnson spent the day with county commissioners and staff of north-and mid-coast counties, who attended the fall AOC District Seven meeting in Scappoose. She gladly shared her thoughts on a variety of issues coming to the 2017 legislature, but her real enthusiasm was reserved for the location of the meeting, at present bear ground, gravel operations, and the Scappoose airport.

A long awaited higher education facility and state-of-the-art research and development center is in its early stages of construction on the site, in no small part due to the skilled and sustained efforts of Senator Johnson and other key players (including Commissioner Tony Hyde) and a legislative appropriation of $7.5 million of needed financing. The resources
will create an Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC). Property zoned light industrial near the Scappoose Airport will become the American version of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) in Sheffield, England, created by Boeing and its industry partners in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. There, the project transformed a 400-acre empty lot in a depressed region of the country into a renowned manufacturing center that employs 2,000 engineers and apprentices, assists 500 manufacturing companies with training and innovation and has had a $1 billion impact on the economy.

In Scappoose, Boeing, Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland State University, and Portland Community College will collaborate to offer about 250 apprenticeships per year to train students on the latest equipment before they are hired for positions in their chosen industry. The research center will work on projects specific to
industries, such as creating prototypes for parts on Boeing’s dreamliner aircraft. Other stakeholders and potential partners include regional metals manufacturers, trade unions, and Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries and Employment Department. Senator Johnson noted that the facilities will be utilized by medical, automotive, and many other industries, and described the project as transformational.

The city and county will need to resolve issues that accompany any major economic development opportunity: limited housing, public transit options, congestion on Highway 30, and an increased water supply.