OMIC to receive $6 million in federal, state funding
Craig Campbell got the news no sooner than regional media outlets.
"This morning," Campbell, executive director of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, recalls of seeing a press release Monday announcing OMIC was awarded a $3 million Department of Commerce grant.
"I found out via press release and via phone call from Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, who has just been phenomenal throughout this process," Campbell says.
The federal grant was awarded to Oregon Institute of Technology, which oversees OMIC, and matched with $3 million in state bonds for a total of $6 million toward new developments at the training and research center in Scappoose.
OIT officials estimate the training center will generate 978 new jobs, while retaining 512 jobs and spurring $692 million in private investment, according to information provided in initial grant applications to the federal agency.
"It's just one of those things where you're biting your nails and hoping you'd be granted the award at the end," Campbell notes.
The federal funding comes through the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. Grant money will be used to retrofit the existing site in Scappoose, purchase new equipment, and furnish the 34,000-square-foot site, a news release from the Department of Commerce states.
"Under the Trump Administration, workforce development and training has taken on a new urgency as many American communities feel that they have been left behind," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross states in the news release. "This new facility in Scappoose will provide the innovative education the local labor force needs to compete and thrive in the global economy."
Congresswoman Bonamici, who represents Oregon's 1st District, released a statement through her office, notes she was "proud to advocate for federal funding" for OMIC.
"This is great news for Oregon," Bonamici states. "I am thrilled to see that the Economic Development Administration recognizes the potential of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. OMIC will help students and workers learn the skills they need to work in today's economy, where advanced manufacturing is increasingly technical, while also advancing research and development that helps industries compete and thrive."
To date, the center has seen over $15 million in state and business investment.
Upon inception, the Oregon Legislature allotted $7.5 million for the new center, modeled after the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Sheffield, England.
Then came buy-in from business partnerships — 19 of them since July. In April, the center received its first major piece of equipment with the arrival of a $3 million WFL M 80 mill-turn. Over the next few weeks a large mill is set to arrive.
Despite big money thrusted at the center, by outward accounts OMIC appears unassuming.
Nestled adjacent from a gravel mining operation, the center's parking lot appears nearly empty. The building is large, but quiet, with empty offices and conference rooms.
Campbell says that will soon change.
"We actually are going to have people doing a set of research in the next three to four weeks on one of our existing projects," Campbell says. "Things are going to be much more active. What we're doing now is essentially the start-up phase. Within the next couple of weeks you're going to start seeing construction on the road going into OMIC."
Campbell says the building will undergo changes to include an HVAC system in one of the upper bays to prevent metals from expanding or contracting. Additionally, office spaces will be opened up to make for a more collaborative environment, Campbell says.
On top of that, OSG Tools has plans to construct a new building right next to OMIC, according to Campbell.
"You're going to probably see maybe one to two more buildings popping up as we start to expand," he says.