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New center for manufacturing and research making quiet progress

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Board of directors handling R&D efforts for OMIC and partner agreements for new tech site in Columbia County

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose still seems relatively empty, but officials say a board of directors has been formed and efforts to secure new tenants and industry partners are underway.

It's likely to be the new economic hub of Columbia County, but much of the progress at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center is happening behind the scenes.

Since Oregon Institute of Technology purchased a building in Scappoose last year to house the new advanced manufacturing and research center, a board of directors has been formed for the research and development component of OMIC and the building is now occupied by Mike Myers.

Meyers is a professor with Oregon Tech's manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology department who is handling logistics at the new site and getting it ready for other educational partners and businesses.

Chuck Daughtry, director of the Columbia County Economic Team, serves as an ad hoc advisory member to the board. He said things are moving along, but most of the leg work is logistical and communication-based.

"We're trying to put a local team together with the county, city, Port of St. Helens, CCET all working in collaboration to support the OMIC enterprise," Daughtry said Thursday. "We're working in tandem with Portland Community College, but separately in a sense. We're working on the same objectives, but we're not at the point yet where we've been able to stitch the two functions together."

Daughtry said the OMIC is working to secure partnership agreements with other industry and university

partners aside from Boeing and Oregon Tech, but those partners can't be disclosed yet.

The OMIC was announced in 2016 after state funding was allocated to the project, in conjunction with PCC bond money that will be used to build a new PCC training center near the OMIC.

The center will pro-

vide workforce training and offer a space for integrated applied research and training for the manufacturing industry.

OMIC was conceptualized after the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, England. Boeing has been a key partner in the concept and planning for the project.

In late 2016, Gov. Kate Brown was given a tour of the new OMIC facility, with Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, and officials from the Port of St. Helens, city of Scappoose, Columbia County, PCC and several other stakeholders present.

Local economic stakeholders from across the county met at the OMIC site last Friday, March 10, to get a progress update on the center and what impacts it may have on the county's economy in the future.

Janet LaBar with Greater Portland Inc. serves as the communications coordinator for the OMIC. She confirmed Thursday that there are efforts to secure equipment and machinery at the site, as well as tenants.

"There's at least one thing happening on OMIC every day," LaBar said.