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Manufacturing research and development facility making major headway with industry collaboration

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, pictured here, will house at least seven manufacturing industry partners, the center announced this week. The site will be used by students and industrial companies for applied research and development.

Seven leading manufacturing companies and three universities have now officially signed on as partners at the new Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose.

OMIC announced Wednesday, June 28, that the research and development facility achieved a major milestone with the multi-party collaboration agreement.

"This collaboration will launch OMIC's mission to develop advanced metals manufacturing technologies that are expected to increase commercial productivity and augment state and regional capabilities for industry growth and innovation," a news release from OMIC states.

To date, ATI, Blount International, Silver Eagle Manufacturing, Vigor, Hangsterfer's Laboratories Inc., Daimler Trucks North America and The Boeing Company have all signed on to be members of OMIC.

OMIC was conceptualized as a research and design facility that will combine educational providers with manufacturing industries to provide hands-on workforce training.

Oregon Institute of Technology announced its involvement early on, purchasing the former Jersey building next to Scappoose Sand & Gravel, which now houses OMIC.

With the urging of Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, $7.5 million in state funding was set aside to get OMIC off the ground.

Equipment donations for the research facility from machine tool manufacturers have also been secured.

In addition to OIT, Oregon State University and Portland State University will also be part of OMIC. Portland Community College, the first educational entity to announce its involvement with the project, is using bond money to build a training facility near OMIC.

The manufacturing research campus will provide "outside-in applied research, technical advice, and support" via manufacturing companies, according to OMIC.

Modeled after the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, England, the concept behind OMIC is to house educational providers and industrial manufacturing companies at the same site, allowing students to use research methods and engineering to pioneer new manufacturing methods. The site is expected to launch its first projects before the end of 2017.

OMIC has been couched as a "state of the art facility" by its partners and supporters. Regional political leaders like Johnson have called the project "transformational" for Columbia County.

"OMIC is the most exciting economic development effort that Oregon has seen in a long time," Johnson stated in the news release. "OMIC R&D is an Oregon asset that will have a ripple effect across the state. I anticipate that OMIC will bring jobs and new industries to Oregon as the research results begin to accelerate and grow manufacturing."

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