PCC obtains land in Columbia County, set to begin construction on facility
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
This week, Portland Community College received the green light to take possession of property in Columbia County on which it will build a workforce training center. The parcel of land – just over 17 acres – is located north of Wagner Court and east of West Lane Road, in Scappoose.
The land acquisition is the culmination of a lengthy process. “We’re thrilled to share that PCC now has land in Scappoose, and even happier that construction will soon begin,” said Sylvia Kelley, PCC’s executive vice president.
“Many thanks to our constituents in Columbia County, who have patiently waited as the college worked diligently to make this project a reality.”
The property offers easy access to students and the community because of its adjacency to Highway 30. Also appealing is its proximity to OMIC R&D, the Research & Development partner in the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center initiative. The regional OMIC project seeks to combine applied research and development and workforce training, serving the region’s advanced manufacturers and creating economic mobility for area residents to access living wage careers in the metals manufacturing industry.
PCC’s training center will initially focus on advanced manufacturing, offering such programs as Machining, Computer Numerically Controlled Operation, Welding and Mechatronics, all of which complement OMIC’s R&D work. Programming will be based on an apprenticeship model, a career pathway that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction in order to develop the industry-aligned skills necessary for a rewarding career with an employer that trains and hires them. PCC is also committed to providing additional Career Technical Education and other courses as needed by the community.“PCC’s partnership in Scappoose was something we’ve supported wholeheartedly from the very beginning,” said Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge.
“There have been bumps and bruises along the way, trying to figure it out and how to do it, but all day long, the city of Scappoose has been there with PCC. It’s very important for the city. It’s very important for economic development. And, it’s very important for the whole OMIC process that’s happening out there.
“Having sticks in the ground for a community college is huge for our community. So, we’re all onboard and looking very forward to the groundbreaking on that site,” he said.
PCC will begin construction soon, with an anticipated facility opening date of spring 2021. Meanwhile, plans are underway for a celebratory groundbreaking, open to the community, to take place in late winter or early spring 2020.
“I’ve got a construction and project management team ready to go on the build, and they couldn’t be more excited to start work,” said Linda Degman, director of PCC’s Planning and Capital Construction office.
“Our 2020 groundbreaking truly will be a celebration about the facility to be built, and the asset it will be for the community,” said Degman.
PCC has had a long-time presence in Columbia County, offering both credit and non-credit courses throughout the region. Welding classes continue to be taught in the evenings at St. Helens High School as they have for the past six years. Beginning this fall, Scappoose High School offered machining coursework to their students to meet curriculum needs using PCC’s OMIC equipment located at the high school. Meanwhile, OMIC machining apprentices began taking classes in the evenings at Scappoose High School. However, the desire for a permanent PCC presence and facility has been long standing.
“PCC is incredibly grateful to our community partners in Columbia County, who have granted access to the college over the years to use their facilities for classes,” said Kelley.
“Their generosity hasn’t mitigated our desire for a permanent facility in the region, however. As such, we are delighted about the phase we’re now in.
“Advanced manufacturing has a bright future in our state, with the OMIC project being transformational for Columbia County and northwest Oregon. PCC’s training center will provide students with both the classroom and on-the-job learning they need to fill high-demand, living wage jobs available,” said Kelley.
Added Scappoose City Manager Michael Sykes, “While volunteering at the city’s September Sauerkraut Festival, attended by 8,000 community members, the number one question I was asked was about when PCC would be coming to town. And this was quickly followed by comments that they hoped PCC was still headed our way.
“Scappoose has the largest vacant industrial area in the region, and all of it is pretty much shovel-ready. PCC will complement the workforce opportunities here and is really going to be a game changer for our community,” he said.