Through Port of St. Helens, Koreans visit spots for potential hotel, grain storage project

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Port of St. Helens Executive Director Doug Hayes (center) introduces McNulty Creek Industrial Park in St. Helens to entrepreneurs from South Korea.Entrepreneurs from South Korea toured Columbia County this week to scope out potential sites for a variety of business ventures.

Staff from the Port of St. Helens, along with port commissioners, showed three touring businessmen the Scappoose Industrial Airpark Wednesday afternoon, before heading on to the McNulty Creek Industrial Park in St. Helens.

"Most of these sites are shovel ready," Port of St. Helens Executive Director Doug Hayes told the South Korean entrepreneurs Wednesday, relying on his

wife, who speaks Korean, to translate.

The businessmen were also slated to tour Port Westward Industrial Park before the end of the week.

Hayes briefed port commissioners Tuesday morning on the purpose of the business trip, saying the three men were prospecting for commercial and industrial sites that could accommodate a bulk grain storage and transfer station, as well as a hotel and potential solar farm.

Port Commissioner Paulette Lichatowich advised staff to avoid touring sites that aren't owned by the port.

"I want to caution you that we're working on port business and we're not promoting individuals' properties," Lichatowich said.

Commissioner Chris Iverson countered.

"I disagree with that a little bit," Iverson said. "Part of our job is to promote business in the county, whether it's our property or someone else's property."

The grain storage project is currently eyed for Port Westward, but Hayes said the business developers are aware that the site is in the midst of a rezone approval with the goal of expanding the industrial park.

"They're interested in creating a footprint out here," Hayes said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

A hotel, if developed by the group, would be sited somewhere in south county, likely Scappoose, Hayes noted.

Hayes said he was introduced to the business developers via the nonprofit Edwin Institute, an organization that connects government agencies with prospects. The connection with Edwin Institute, he said, came from a meeting with the Port of Astoria's executive director.

Hayes said it's too soon to start hammering out specifics or know whether anything will come to fruition, but called the visit "very promising."

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