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The long-awaited training center will be part of the Oregon Manfacturing Innovation Center initiative.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Leaders on the Portland Community College Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center project in Scappoose participate in a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 29. From left to right: PCC OMIC Training Center Director Andrew Lattanner, PCC Board Member Tiffani Penson, State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), PCC Board Member Jim Harper, PCC President Mark Mitsui, OMIC Research & Development Executive Director Craig Campbell, and Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge.

Portland Community College this week broke ground on the long-awaited manufacturing training center in Scappoose.

Leaders from PCC, Columbia County and Scappoose gathered Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research & Development facility, called OMIC.

"This feels like one of the longest courtships on record," Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, said in a speech. "To be honest, there were times when it felt like a one-sided affair.

"For years, Columbia County taxpayers have been paying $2 million a year towards the promise that one day Portland Community College would build an educational facility in Columbia County," she added. "But finally, we're here."

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - State Sen. Betsy Johnson, a driving force behind the Portland Community College OMIC Training Center, appears at the centers groundbreaking event.

PCC had promised to build to physical presence in Columbia County for more than a decade, since shortly after passage of the college's monumental $374 million bond initiative in 2008.

"I believe the time is right now. We have the right property, we have the right location, we have the right project, and we have the right partners," said Linda Degman, PCC executive vice president.

"I know it's taken time to get here, but when it's right, it's right," Degman said.

The $24 million, 31,000-square-foot training center will focus on manufacturing, with programs in machining, welding and more.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Portland Community College Executive Vice President Sylvia Kelley speaks to a crowd at the groundbreaking event for PCCs OMIC Training Center in Scappoose.

The program will rely on an apprenticeship model under which students will gradually spend less time in the classroom and more time in paid working positions.

"Having a community college in your community is transformational and is going to change everything in the city," Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge recounts the long history of local efforts to bring a manufacturing training program to Columbia County.

"There's going to be an awful lot of overlap between the two of us," OMIC R&D Executive Director Craig Campbell said of the two OMIC projects.

"Having us close together, having the opportunity to work with people who understand the power of collaboration ... it's going to create, by that collaboration, so much more than any of us could do independently," Campbell said.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - More than 100 people gather for the groundbreaking of Portland Community Colleges manufacturing training center, including elected officials, PCC leadership, and leaders from manufacturing.

The facility, which is slated to open in spring 2021, hit a bump in the road last year when the owners of the planned property abruptly backed out of a sale after a year of negotiations. At the time, community members worried the hiccup would become an excuse for PCC to delay the training center.

Instead, PCC exercised its right of eminent domain to force the owners to sell and took possession of the property in December.


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