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Control Solutions, Inc., makes monitoring equipment for vaccines, other uses.

Columbia County, cities and the port approved an extension on a property tax exemption for a growing St. Helens-based company.

Control Solutions Inc. sells devices that monitor the temperature of a space for industrial or pharmaceutical purposes. The data loggers are most frequently used in vaccine storage, because vaccines, like those for COVID-19, must be stored at narrow temperature ranges to remain effective.

Control Solutions has been in business since 1996 but went into the vaccine temperature monitoring industry in 2009, according to Control Solutions President Kevin Wick.

"At the time, people were just handwriting down, twice a day, the temperatures of the refrigerators and freezers storage. And we thought, 'Hey, there's a more accurate, more reliable way of doing this," Wick told county commissioners in April. The data loggers digitally record the temperature and can send out alerts if the temperature deviates from the acceptable range.

Though the pandemic has increased the demand for Control Solutions' products, it has also encouraged more companies to enter the data logger business.

"We're competing well, we've added more employees than required or even projected. However, we also have identified need and opportunities to diversity (our) product offerings by making some production adjustments and modifications to enter new verticals," Wick wrote in a letter to Paul Vogel, executive director of Columbia Economic Team, which manages the enterprise zone property tax exemption program.

"We've identified both need and market channels in pharmacies, the farm-to-fork chain, environmental applications and even museums," Wick wrote.

The South Columbia County Enterprise Zone, like enterprise zones throughout the state, provides temporary property tax exemptions for companies bringing new business investments to the area.

Control Solutions invested $1.18 million in constructing a new building next to its St. Helens location, and met multiple other requirements for the tax exemption.

The company was required to hire new employees, increasing staffing by at least 10%, or two new employees. The company actually increased staffing by 30%, now employing 25 people in their new facility, Vogel said.

The company was also required to pay new employees an average wage and benefits package of at least 150% of the county's average annual wage of $40,729.

The six sponsors of the South Columbia County Enterprise Zone — St. Helens, Scappoose, Columbia City, Vernonia, Columbia County and the Port of Columbia County — all approved Control Solutions' application this spring.


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