Today the Oregon Legislature announced the approval and release of $7.5 million toward the creation of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), a co-located Research and Development (R&D) Center and Training Center in Columbia County.
As a manufacturing innovation center, OMIC will augment Greater Portland’s metals, machinery and manufacturing industry and train the next advanced manufacturing workforce. OMIC will support the retention and expansion of existing companies through the capabilities of the R&D Center and the skilled talent from the Training Center.
Based on the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Center (AMRC) in Sheffield UK, OMIC will be the first of its kind in the U.S. supported by The Boeing Company. AMRC Sheffield is a 400-acre campus that houses engineered-based research and training operations and employs 2,000 engineers and apprentices. The center also provides 800 member companies with access to training and innovation. "OMIC builds on Oregon’s long-standing reputation as a leading metals, machinery and manufacturing hub," said Chris Harder, director of Business Oregon. "The partnership – a collaborative effort between industry, academia and government – lays a foundation for long-term job creation, skill development and advanced technology in the state, while immediately increasing the competitiveness of local companies."
The OMIC R&D Center and Training Center will be located in Scappoose, Oregon. Through a partnership with industry, higher education and government, the R&D Center will enhance the region’s existing metals manufacturing industry and serve as a magnet for new investment. Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) has committed to purchasing an existing building that will serve as the R&D Center, and The Boeing Company, regional industrial partners, Oregon State University and Portland State University will serve as OMIC’s R&D anchor tenants.
Portland Community College (PCC) will create the Oregon Training Center, which will focus on serving students through industry-sponsored skilled apprenticeships. Higher education institutions will partner through the Training Center to develop and support pathways to advanced careers in engineering and advanced manufacturing. Initial apprenticeships will target underrepresented populations in metals manufacturing including students of color, women and the economically disadvantaged.
“The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center is crucial to augmenting our manufacturing industry,” said Sylvia Kelley, interim president of PCC. “As the largest higher education and workforce training institution in Oregon, we are excited to support the creation of OMIC and train and foster the next generation of advanced manufacturing workforce in Oregon.”
The business launch of OMIC is slated to begin by 2017, although advanced manufacturing research activities from Oregon Tech, OSU, and PSU are poised to start immediately. Likewise, PCC will also begin OMIC apprenticeship programs in its Rock Creek and Sylvania campuses until the new Training Center is built. In April, PCC’s board of trustees passed a resolution allowing the college’s president to move forward with the purchasing of property for the Training Center.
“With an established manufacturing industry, available land, a skilled workforce, and proactive government and educational partners we have all the ingredients to create a successful innovation district,” said State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. “The creation of OMIC is an extraordinary opportunity to transform the economic landscape, not only of Scappoose and Columbia County, but of greater Portland and the state.”
By leveraging the region’s existing manufacturing capabilities, and partnering with government, higher education and industry, OMIC’s R&D Center and Training Center will attract new manufacturing jobs to Oregon, as well as work to support and retain existing companies.