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With purchase and leaseback agreement, Port of Columbia County officials say jobs will be spared

In an effort to save jobs and keep a major industrial tenant at the Scappoose airport, the Port of Columbia County will buy a building from Oregon Aero and lease it back to the company.

Port commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday, Jan. 23, to purchase a nearly 14,000-square-foot building, dubbed "Building 50," at the Scappoose Industrial Airpark. The industrial building on Skyway Drive is owned by Oregon Aero, but the port already owns the land.

A purchase and sale agreement approved Wednesday indicates the port agreed to pay $1 million for the building, but during prior negotiations, port officials indicated the actual financial layout would be closer to $637,000, with the remainder being covered By Oregon Aero to make up for back rent to the port.

The manufacturing company, which specializes in materials for the aerospace industry, leases two other sites from the port.SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Kyra Brinster uses a carving knife to cut foam pads at Oregon Aero in Scappoose. After negotiating a property sale and leaseback agreement with Oregon Aero, the Port of Columbia County cited saving jobs as a major catalyst for the sale agreement.

Earlier this month, port commissioners and staff said the purchase agreement would help close the gap on hundreds of thousands of dollars Oregon Aero owes to the port for lease agreements.

By buying the building, the port will lease the space back to Oregon Aero and Oregon Aero will make monthly payments.

"It clears out one piece out of there off our books ... that eventually we may never get if they go under," Bob Gadotti, financial director for the port, reminded commissioners during a Jan. 9 meeting. Gadotti said if the port rejected the sale and Oregon Aero folded, the port would have no chance of receiving its due revenue.

"The port now has the land and the building," Doug Hayes, executive director of the port, emphasized Wednesday afternoon, following the port board's meeting earlier that morning.

Hayes said commissioners felt strongly about allowing Oregon Aero to stay afloat and retain its employees.

"Looking beyond that, we're saving Oregon Aero and keeping those 60 jobs," he noted. "That's what the port is in business to do, is bring and sustain jobs and help where we can."

Two weeks prior, on first consideration, commissioners weren't ready to make any purchasing decisions. They opted instead to research appraisal values and tour the site first.

Along with the building, Oregon Aero also agreed to lease roughly 23,000 square feet of land surrounding the building.


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