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Wings & Wheels highlights emerging industries

City may have lost beloved festivals and family-owned production plants, but it stands to gain a slice of the future

This year's Wings & Wheels event in Scappoose is the last summertime community event left standing in the city. It's also the most significant showcase of what's to come for Columbia County.

Each year, the Scappoose Industrial Airpark hosts a day of live music, vendors, and a beer garden, with airplanes and classic cars on display. The event highlights the city's modest aerospace and aviation segment.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - A construction site neighboring the Scappoose Industrial Airpark is the future site of a Cascades Tissue conversion facility. The new plant is one of many large-scale industrial developments slated for the area near the airport.On Saturday, eventgoers will notice the airport's economic potential slowly coming to fruition. Across the lot, heavy machinery and a new concrete slab signal the forthcoming Cascades Tissue paper conversion plant. The $63 million, roughly 600,000-square-foot operation will house the production of tissue and other similar paper products, tying in to the company's St. Helens plant.

Cascades is the first in an onslaught of large-scale construction slated for the airport area over the next few years.

Scappoose's aerospace and manufacturing economies are expected to multiply with the presence of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. The advanced manufacturing and research hub will spark partnerships among Boeing and the state's prominent higher education providers, to create research and design hubs that allow students to get workforce training in advanced manufacturing techniques, while giving companies adequate space for developing and designing new technology.

Portland Community College, a key player in the OMIC, is on track to develop a workforce training center, college officials say.

"Our plan is for the estimated 25,000 square-foot building to be completed and open in fall 2018," Kate Chester, community relations director for PCC, stated.

PCC just hired a temporary director for the center, Gregg Meyer, to oversee the project, Chester noted.

Other key educational entities like Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland State University and Oregon State University will also be part of the new center.

As a precursor, PCC will use a newly acquired $576,000 grant from the Oregon Talent Council to offer preparation classes for advanced manufacturing training at its Portland campus locations. PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE PHOTO - Students work together in a design class at Portland Community College. The college is on track to develop a workforce training center as part of a larger Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose, which will pave the way for advanced manufacturing jobs in the state.

In many ways, Wings & Wheels signals the shift in Scappoose. The city has shed some of its small but notable production operations, like candle making and its once-famous Steinfeld's sauerkraut plant, and later losing the annual Sauerkraut Festival not long before the Summerfest event also fell by the wayside. Wings & Wheels serves as a symbol of what's to come-- a shift from small, family-owned production, to cutting edge, innovative manufacturing methods that could bring new jobs and put the city ahead of its time.