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PCC preps for Scappoose land purchase

State to review PCC business plan next month

Portland Community College is moving closer to purchasing property in Columbia County.

PCC board members last Thursday, April 21, delegated authority to interim President Sylvia Kelley to carry out property purchases and land transactions related to a site here.

PORT OF ST. HELENS PHOTO - An aerial view of Scappoose Industrial Airpark shows the area that could be poised for a new Advanced Manufacturing Research Center developed by Portland Community College. Land at the airport has long been eyed for future industrial growth.Kate Chester, a spokeswoman for PCC, confirmed the college is “investigating property near the Scappoose airpark.”

“The timing and pace of these discussions cannot be predicted, but time could well be of the essence for the purchase of the property,” a board report states.

Last week’s board action is the first major follow-up to an announcement in March that Oregon’s state Legislature approved $7.4 million to be coupled with PCC bond funds to build an Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Columbia County. The project’s concept utilizes other educational partners across the state to develop a center where college students get hands-on workforce training in engineering and aerospace associated careers.

The Boeing Company, which developed a successful AMRC model in Sheffield, England, has signaled it will likely be a private industry partner in the project. PCC is expected to use Boeing’s model of applied research and development to develop the new workforce training center.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes announced plans earlier this year to cut 4,000 jobs by June, with the possibility of more cuts. That won’t affect plans for the Columbia County AMRC, Nathan Hulings, a Boeing representative, stated earlier this month.

“Our potential partnership is being worked through Boeing Research & Technology, which is not part of Boeing Commercial Airplanes or their business strategy,” Hulings clarified. “And as a potential industry partner in a future Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Oregon, Boeing expects to become more involved as this project matures. The aviation industry remains strong and we continue to invest in our future.”

Construction of a new educational facility fulfills PCC’s obligation to develop a site in Columbia County using bond money approved by voters in 2008.

“We’re very excited about the potential that this project holds,” Chester said by phone Wednesday.

PCC has yet to buy any

property, but a site would

likely be purchased within Scappoose’s newly expanded urban growth boundary.

After land is acquired, it would likely be annexed into city limits.

PCC officials must present a business plan to the state’s Emergency Board in late May, Chester said. It’s unclear when construction will start on the AMRC.