Port wants to build roughly 90,000-square-foot spec building to accommodate new industrial and research tenants

As the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center continues to increase its partnership inventory, the Port of St. Helens is considering its building inventory.

Doug Hayes, executive director of the Port, confirmed earlier this week that the agency is looking to build a new industrial building in Columbia County — most likely Scappoose.

Port staff say OMIC leaders could easily find tenants to fill a 90,000-square foot building if one were available in the county. That's a tall order, but one the Port is hoping to fill.

Hayes said the Port is approaching state leaders about help with funding or financing for a speculative building — one that will be built with the intent to sell immediately.

Currently, the agency doesn't have anything available that's big enough to accommodate what OMIC partner businesses might need.

"All of our hangars at the airport are occupied, and there's a waitlist," Hayes said.

Port staff say they don't have enough industrial land to offer tenants, and a spec building could be the solution. SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Staff with the Port of St. Helens say the agency is looking into developing a new, roughly 90,000-square-foot industrial building to accommodate research and manufacturing tenants coming to Columbia County as a result of OMIC.

Last week, Port commissioners weighed the merits of developing new spec properties during a board of commissioners meeting.

Commissioner Robert Keyser discouraged the construction of anything less than a large industrial building that is likely to support more than a dozen jobs.

Keyser advised against building more "10,000 or 15,000 square foot buildings" and instead wanted to focus more on turnkey properties for larger companies with bigger employment.

Hayes said an exact location for a new building hasn't been narrowed down yet, but the Port owns about 25 acres of property west of the Scappoose Industrial Airpark.

While a new building may be in the works for the Port, a prospective international tenant is also looking at Columbia County.

International manufacturing tenant eyes Columbia County

Dong Chun Co. Ltd, a Korean-based manufacturer of magnetic car bumpers, is seeking out a site in the county, Hayes said.

Earlier this year, a group of business investors from South Korea visited Columbia County to scope out sites for potential new business ventures, including a hotel and renewable energy site.

"I'm very sensitive to the fact that businesses have, for years, talked about coming

into the community and just never materialized," Hayes said.

Dong Chun signed a lease agreement for a factory site in China in 2016, according to the company's website.

Another group is expected to be visiting from Korea toward the end of March.

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