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Port terminates St. Helens site lease with bumper manufacturer DongChun Co. Ltd.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Port of Columbia County Executive Director Doug Hayes, center, said he was disappointed that bumper-manufacturer DongChun will not come to Columbia County, but that ultimately, the port is 'not a charity.'Plans for a magnetic bumper manufacturer DongChun Co. Ltd. to open a factory in Columbia County have been cancelled.

When the lease agreement was signed in October, port staff said DongChun planned to occupy the site by December.

The South Korean company had originally planned to begin operations in March, according to Port of Columbia County Executive Director Doug Hayes. The date was then pushed to April.

Now, the contract is off.

"We tried to work with them as much as they can, but we're also not a charity," Hayes said.

DongChun manufactures a product called "drive impact relax device," or DIRED, that is promoted as "the world's first impact relaxation device using permanent magnets and electromagnets." Initial projections had the company hiring as many as 50 employees to operate an assembly line, with long-term plans of employing 200 people.

"Everything was going to be handmade. That's why it was such a great fit," Hayes said. "It's just really unfortunate. We thought this type of business would be really great for the county."

The company had gotten slightly behind on payments to the port, according to Hayes.

Based on conversations with DongChun, Hayes said it appears investors in the company had shifted to side with car companies who wanted to purchase the patent for DongChun's bumper, rather than purchasing the completed bumpers.

Last October, the company signed a lease agreement with the port for a 14,000-square-foot building at 514 Milton Way in St. Helens. That facility is now back on the market for lease.

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