University, state will share cost of $4.15 million building for new Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center

PHOTO COURTESY OF OREGON INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY - A mock-up illustration shows plans for a more than 455,000-square-foot industrial building in Scappoose that was approved for purchase to be used as the site of a new Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. The OMIC is a groundbreaking development in advanced manufacturing for the state.A $4.15 million building purchase in Scappoose signals a key step toward the opening of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation District.

Oregon Institute of Technology's board of trustees voted Monday morning to approve spending up to $1.75 million on a 455,200 square-foot site with accompanying building on Northeast Crown Zellerbach Road. The industrial space, owned by John Jersey and subsequently dubbed the “Jersey building” by Scappoose officials and Oregon Tech, will be purchased in part by the polytechnic university, along with Business Oregon and money set aside by the Oregon Legislature toward the advanced manufacturing center.

The forthcoming project will make Scappoose the site of a major innovation district-- the first of its kind in Oregon and the U.S.

Modeled after an advanced manufacturing district in Sheffield, England, the innovation center will pair educational providers like Oregon Tech, Portland Community College, Portland State University and Oregon State University with industry leaders like the Boeing Company, to create a center that utilizes research and development to advance the latest manufacturing techniques. As planned, the center will offer workforce training and apprenticeship programs.

The Jersey building is slated to house the research and design component of the new OMIC, a news release from Oregon Tech stated.

Bill Gerry is a program manager for global technology at Boeing. He said in his 15 years of executing the collaborative innovation district model in 14 locations across the world, the project in Scappoose represents the first U.S.-based endeavor of this type for Boeing.

“This is a great opportunity for all of the partners, and a feather in the cap for Oregon Tech and for the state of Oregon, which have done a yeoman’s job throughout the process,” Gerry stated in the news release. “Because of the state and regional support for OMIC we have seen interest nationally and internationally from industries to support this effort with equipment donations and other investments. This is an excellent starting point to form up the OMIC partnership, and future growth will have an even greater economic impact in the state.”

Oregon Tech says the goal is to have the facility operational next year.

Senator Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, has been instrumental in securing state funding and helping to move the project forward. Johnson visited the site of the advanced manufacturing research center in Sheffield earlier this year, said she was "thrilled" about the Oregon Tech investment.

“This is going to be transformative for Columbia County, for Oregon and the region, and dare I say the nation,” Johnson said Monday.

Prior to Oregon Tech's approval of the building purchase, Portland Community College announced its own plans to build a regional training center, near where the OMIC will operate.