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Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center's second building will continue focus on metals manufacturing.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - OMIC leaders and proponents of the center broke ground on the new additive manufacturing facility on Thursday, Aug. 19.Leaders of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center broke ground on the newest building on Thursday, Aug. 19.

The new building will house OMIC Research & Design's Additive Innovation Center, which will focus on additive manufacturing technologies like 3D printing.

State Sen. Betsy Johson, D-Scappoose, widely agreed to have been a driving force behind the OMIC initiative, praised the political support for OMIC, including backing from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Columbia County commissioners.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) speaks at the OMIC groundbreaking ceremony for an additive manufacturing facility.

"It has been terrific when prospects or businesses that want to become members say 'what's the level of political support you have?' And we can say without fear of contradiction, it's 100% and we're damn proud of it," Johnson said.

OMIC R&D executive director Craig Campbell said the OMIC project aims to put Columbia County on the map in manufacturing innovations.

"We're asking you to join us as we make … Columbia County and the state of Oregon the hub of manufacturing companies that take advantage of additive manufacturing, so that they can grow within the global market," Campbell said.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Representatives from manufacturing businesses, political leaders, economic development groups and universities and other educational groups attend a groundbreaking ceremony at OMIC on Aug. 19, 2021.

Mark Mitsui, president of Portland Community College, which opened its OMIC Training Center across the road earlier this year, echoed Campbell's goal to make OMIC a national model.

"We're all keenly aware of the skills gap facing the manufacturing sector," Mitsui said. "We also recognize that the skills gap is amplified by an opportunity gap as well."

OMIC is "on the forefront in terms of bringing advanced manufacturing research and development breakthroughs in very close proximity in space and time to breakthroughs in training and workforce development," Mitsui said.

"It's easy to be impressed by OMIC's advanced equipment and technologies. … But it's equally impressive that OMIC is now home to industry-leading engineers, accomplished researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and even local high school interns," Mitsui added.

OMIC is officially a project of the Oregon Institute of Technology, one of Oregon's seven public universities, which is based in Klamath Falls and has a smaller campus in Wilsonville.

OIT President Nagi Naganathan said OMIC models a "seamless partnership that goes between university and industry" that he believes is necessary.

The additive manufacturing center will work primarily with metals, as is the case in OMIC's existing facility.

One benefit of additive manufacturing is that it creates less waste than traditional manufacturing methods, "which means lower demand on metals, it means being safer for the environment, and it also means a lower cost in production," Campbell said.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Business, educational and political leaders who have supported OMIC stand in front of attendees at a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 19, 2021.

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