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Port of St. Helens says Dong Chun Co., a Korean manufacturer, hopes to employ 200 people

PHOTO COURTESY OF PORT OF ST. HELENS - Doug Hayes (center) executive director of the Port of St. Helens, meets with business owners from Korea to show them Port properties available. To the far left, Sanghui Hayes, who is fluent in Korean, joins in to help interpret. A Korean manufacturing company wants to be an American manufacturing company, with products made in Columbia City.

Dong Chun Co. Ltd., a company that manufactures magnetic vehicle bumpers as improved safety devices, is intending to construct four new buildings on 15 acres of land owned by the Port of St. Helens.

Doug Hayes, executive director of the Port, confirmed Thursday, April 5, that the company wants to execute construction plans. The company's plans were affirmed during a visit to the county last week. Hayes guided Korean business executives on a tour through the county, showing them available land.

Last week's trip marks the second this year in which Hayes and Port staff greeted businessmen from Korea, with interest in exploring development opportunities in the county."

We are writing a [letter of intent] for them right now until we can get that lease done," Hayes said of Dong Chun last week. "It's a factory with no machinery. Everything is done by hand."

Hayes said Dong Chun plans to bring an estimated 200 jobs, mostly in manufacturing."

They want their products to be made in the U.S.A.," Hayes said. "They're taking that next step."

It's unclear when exactly the business might break ground in Columbia City. Port commissioners will still need to approve any lease agreements.

The magnetic bumpers are meant to absorb shock on vehicle impacts, and use repulsive force to reduce impact altogether, the company's website states.

"This technology not only protects your car but addresses the issue of better protection when it comes to your lower body when colliding with an object," the Dong Chun website states.

Dong Chun also utilizes an R&D center, according to the company's site, which could indicate a potential partnership with the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose.

The announcement of the new company site comes in the wake of a large-scale layoff and plant closure of Armstrong World Industries, another manufacturing plant in St. Helens. Armstrong announced in late 2017 it would close its St. Helens plant, laying off all of its 136 employees. Last month, a WARN notice was issued, signaling the layoffs were imminent.

In 2016, Dong Chun initiated the lease of a factory site in China, according to the company's website.

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