2016: A year in review. Scappoose will house new advanced manufacturing and research center championed by Boeing

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - An unassuming building adjacent to a gravel pit in Scappoose is the future home of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. The OMIC is pegged to be a cutting edge educational and workforce training center.In March, officials from Portland Community College, along with Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, announced plans for the development of a large-scale research, design and advanced manufacturing district in Columbia County.

The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center as planned will use an existing industrial building on the same property as the Scappoose Sand & Gravel pit to house hubs for universities and metals manufacturing companies, like Boeing, to combine resources.

Modeled after a site at the University of Sheffield in England, the OMIC will offer workforce training to students and give companies space for research and design.

Since the announcement, PCC, Boeing, Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland State University and Oregon State University have all signed on to have a presence at the OMIC. PCC will also build a new training facility not far from OMIC in Scappoose, while remaining a partner in the OMIC. PCC's plans fulfill the college's commitment to build an educational facility in Columbia County using bond money.

The advanced manufacturing center will be primarily sustained by membership buy-in from companies and colleges.

The OMIC is slated to be one of the most significant additions the county has ever seen. A business plan for the facility, which got $7.5 million in state funds for startup of the center, describes the project as "an ambitious proposal aimed at shaping the future of manufacturing in Oregon."

County leaders and Johnson have called the project, "transformational" for the county.

Gov. Kate Brown visited the OMIC site in early November, with Johnson in attendance along with representatives from Business Oregon, PCC, the Columbia County Economic Team, Scappoose city councilors, county commissioners, Port of St. Helens directors and other regional executives.

A business launch of the new center is expected sometime in 2017.

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