Port of Morrow and Boardman, OR Secures ConAgra Foods Expansion

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG) announced plans for an expansion of its operations in Boardman, OR to add additional processing capacity in its Lamb Weston business for making formed products such as hash brown patties and potato puffs.

Conagra Foods Headquarters

Conagra Foods Headquarters (photo- usc_ty/flickr)

Apart from the $30 million investment, the Port of Morrow and Boardman economic development benefits from this latest expansion includes the creation of another 50 jobs.

Lamb Weston is a ConAgra Foods brand and leading supplier of frozen potato, sweet potato, appetizer and vegetable products to restaurants and retailers around the world.

Lamb Weston already employs 390 people in Boardman, and is one of the largest employers in the Columbia Basin, with approximately 4,500 employees at a corporate office, and seven manufacturing facilities in the region. All told, the company operates 22 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China.

Greg Schlafer, President, Lamb Weston, explained in a statement that with the frozen potato category growing globally, they have tremendous opportunity to support their customers’ growth in the US and around the world. “Expanding our operations in the Columbia Basin – with access to great potatoes, people and ports – just makes sense,” said Schlafer.

ConAgra’s Lamb Weston facility in Boardman is strategically situated to support domestic and international growth, offering proximity to prime growing, storage and shipping operations, along with easy access to the Port of Morrow, located on the Columbia River near Boardman.

The Port of Morrow has three industrial parks served by efficient transportation modes and dependable and modern utilities that make the Port a sensible choice for many industries. With a reputation as a prominent food processing center, the Port is home to fiber and seed processing industries, lumber processing and transportation facilities. Not to mention the Columbia River dock sites that are available for transportation-oriented industries.

Port of Morrow General Manager Gary Neal noted that Lamb Weston’s planned expansion shows their continued commitment to the Port of Morrow, Boardman and the Mid-Columbia region as the right place to do business. “Their ongoing investments add good paying jobs to our Region and we are fortunate to have such great partners at the Port,” said Neal.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG) is one of North America’s leading packaged food companies. The Fortune 500 company, founded in 1919 as Nebraska Consolidated Mills, now has net sales totaling approximately $15.8 billion while employing more than 20,000 people. ConAgra recently announced the relocation of its world headquarters from Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL.

Travel Oregon Forever Fund Allows Visitors to Support Projects That Create Jobs

The Oregon Tourism Commission (dba Travel Oregon) is tasked with strengthening the economic impact of the state’s $10.3 billion tourism industry that employs more than 101,000 Oregonians.

Travel Oregon

Travel Oregon (photo – traveloregon.com)

One of the economic development tools at their disposal is the Travel Oregon Forever Fund, the first statewide program of its kind that aims to improve experiences for visitors and locals by connecting them to participating businesses that directly improve and enhance Oregon communities.

This innovative philanthropy program created by Travel Oregon and Sustainable Travel International has collected more than $90,000 from visitors for projects across the state.

Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson said in a statement that “Travel Oregon not only strives to create economic impact and meaningful jobs in every corner of the state, but we also want to preserve and enhance this beautiful place we call home.”

Davidson added that the projects they support improve local economies, build community, and showcase the culture that makes Oregon a premier destination for visitors and Oregonians alike.

Every two years, seven new Oregon projects are nominated to be recipients of the Travel Oregon Forever Fund – one from each of Oregon’s seven tourism regions. Funds are collected from participating businesses and then distributed equally among all the seven chosen projects at the start of each calendar year.

For instance, one of the latest recipients is the Oregon Wine Country Electric Vehicle Byway Alliance, which is getting funding for its Plug & Pinot program. This project will install new charging stations through the Willamette Valley and build awareness of where you can take your electric vehicle wine tasting.

Another funded project in the Willamette Valley was the restoration and conversion of the historic Camas Country Mill and School House into an interpretive center that will educate visitors on the seed-to-table process and how locally grown and locally supported agriculture can benefit the community.

The Northeast Oregon Economic Development District has likewise received funding from the Travel Oregon Forever Fund for its Wallowa County Agritourism Development project to help develop agritourism in Eastern Oregon by providing visitor information, developing new point-of-sale options for local food products, services and enhancing collaboration.

Brian Mullis, CEO and founder of Sustainable Travel International, noted that today’s travelers are increasingly interested in engaging and connecting with the places and causes they care about. “The Travel Oregon Forever Fund allows visitors to leave behind a legacy in this beloved destination. The projects they support will develop and enrich the destination experience for residents and visitors alike, both now and in the future,” added Mullis.

Oregon Economic Development Funding Helps Expand CLT Manufacturing

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has announced a series of initiatives to establish Oregon as the national leader in cross-laminated timber (CLT) manufacturing.

D.R. Johnson CLT

D.R. Johnson CLT (photo -oregonclt.com)

Governor Brown, who made the announcement at Oregon BEST FEST, a clean tech innovation conference in Portland, said in a release that “CLT presents a new and exciting opportunity for Oregon. Expanding new industries and innovative technologies like advanced wood manufacturing will help reinvigorate our rural, timber-focused economies.”

Industry leaders and Oregon policy makers’ interest in CLT is focused on two key objectives – advancing sustainable building design and promoting rural economic development.

CLT are massive panels of laminated dimensional lumber that are used to build taller wooden buildings. CLT panels can be up to 10 feet wide by 60 feet long, and between 4-10 inches thick. Although CLT has been manufactured in Europe for some time now, it is only now being made for the first time in the U.S. by D.R. Johnson, which is producing 24-foot-long panels that will be used at four construction projects in Oregon.

D.R. Johnson is a family-owned Southern Oregon timber company that is the first to receive U.S. certification to manufacture CLT under a new standard approved last year by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Valerie Johnson, president of D.R. Johnson, said in a release that they are now ready to manufacture high quality mass timber components, both CLT panels and glu-lam beams, to advance the revival of building with the world’s most environmentally sound product – wood.

As part of the series of new initiatives to support the growth of CLT, Oregon economic development agency Business Oregon is providing a $100,000 loan to D.R. Johnson. The company will use the loan to offset the fixed costs of building out the new production line.

This state funding to support CLT manufacturing adds to a $150,000 investment announced last fall through Oregon BEST. That investment was made to support CLT research at Oregon State University, and for development of the production process at D.R. Johnson.

Another new initiative is a design competition launched to promote the use of CLT in Oregon. In order to encourage more developers to use cross-laminated timber, the State of Oregon and its partners will host a design competition in which participants stand to win $200,000 in funding and services.

This competition is sponsored by Oregon BEST and a collaborative advanced wood manufacturing partnership involving Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, and the National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design.

Facebook’s $200M Prineville Data Center Expansion Supports Central Oregon Economic Development

Facebook has announced a more than $200 million capital investment to expand its data center operations in Prineville, OR.

Facebook Prineville Datacenter in Oregon

Facebook Prineville Datacenter in Oregon (photo – IntelFreePress/flickr)

The company’s investment will go towards the addition of a third data center building that will add 487,700 square feet of space.

Ken Patchett, director of Data Center Operations, West Region, Facebook, posted on the Prineville Data Center’s Facebook page that their “goals in both construction and the operation of Facebook’s data center in Prineville have always been to make Prineville a priority, be a great neighbor, and assist with the area’s economic development.”

The new data center construction is expected to continue supporting thousands of jobs in the region. Facebook already employs 147 employees at the Prineville Data Center, and 85 percent of them are Crook County residents.

According to an economic impact analysis study commissioned by Facebook a few months ago, the Prineville Data Center’s impact is as follows:

Construction impact (over five years) – $573 million in capital spending statewide, 651 jobs in Central Oregon, and 3,592 in total statewide, and $6.5 million in state income taxes.

Ongoing, non-construction activities (annual) – $45 million in output and 207 jobs in Central Oregon, and $64.7 million in output and 266 jobs statewide, and $500,000 in property taxes and more than $750,000 in personal state income taxes.

Apart from the Prineville economic development benefits, the new construction also continues to highlight the energy efficient and sustainable features that have made the Prineville Data Center a prototype for Facebook’s subsequent data centers in Forest City, NC; Lulea, Sweden; Altoona, IA; and a new data center that will open soon in Fort Worth, TX.

Sustainability features in the new Building 3 project in Prineville include an Open Compute Project hardware designs and a cooling system that makes use of the Central Oregon high desert air instead of energy-intensive air conditioners.

Patchett added in the post that their appreciation goes to the City of Prineville, Crook County and the State of Oregon for their support.

Late last month, the Prineville City Council and Crook County Board of Commissioners approved resolutions authorizing a property tax exemption for the project through a new 15-year long-term enterprise zone agreement with Vitesse, LLC. The City and County are joint sponsors of the Prineville/Crook County Rural Enterprise Zone. Vitesse, LLC is a Delaware-based entity that will undertake the project on behalf of Facebook.

This agreement will save Facebook millions of dollars in tax benefits, but it’s still going to generate a significant amount of new revenue for the City and County. A similar previous agreement requires Facebook to pay $110,000 per year in lieu of property taxes and around $600,000 in franchise fees. The new data center project will require Facebook to come up with an additional $190,000 per year.

Facebook has already invested $780 million in its Prineville Data Center operations. The company has also contributed more than $1 million over the last four years to Crook County schools and qualified nonprofits through its Community Action Grants program and local donations.

The Dalles and Wasco County, OR Approve Economic Development Agreement For Google Data Center Expansion

The Dalles City Council and Wasco County Board of Commissioners have both approved an Enterprise Zone Agreement that will provide Google with a tax exemption, should the company decide to go ahead with an expansion of its data center operations in The Dalles, OR.

Google data center in The Dalles, OR

Google data center in The Dalles, OR (photo – Tony Webster/flickr)

Wasco County and the City of The Dalles are co-sponsors of an Oregon Enterprise Zone in The Dalles. Companies that locate here, invest in the community and create jobs can enter into long-term, 15-year tax exemption agreements.

Wasco County and The Dalles economic development benefits from such agreements include enterprise zone fees paid to them by the businesses that receive tax exemptions.

Google, doing business in The Dalles as Design, LLC, has already invested $1.2 billion in The Dalles and signed two such 15-year agreements in 2005 and 2013 with Wasco County and the City of The Dalles.

The first data center facility that opened in 2007 in The Dalles now has 80 Google employees and a total of over 150 employees including contractors. The average annual salary of these 80 employees exceeds the requirement of at least 150 percent of the average salary in Wasco County.

The company has now requested a third enterprise zone agreement for constructing a new development on a 23-acre site in the Port of The Dalles’ new Columbia Gorge Industrial Center.

The agreement provides Google with a 15-year tax exemption for the new development on this site, in return for which the company must make an investment of at least $200 million and create at least 10 new jobs. Google’s expansion plan is expected to surpass both these requirements, and will likely result in the creation of up to 50 new jobs.

If Google decides to go ahead with the project, the company will immediately have to pay an initial fee of $1.45 million to the City and County, along with another $250,000 to the Port of The Dalles for the development of additional industrial land. Going forward, the City and County will receive an annual fee of at least $1 million, starting from the tax year that follows the new facility going online.

Google already pays $250,000 as an annual fee for the 2005 agreement, and another $800,000 under the 2013 agreement, adding up to a total of $1,050,000 per year. The proposed expansion will therefore at least double the annual enterprise zone fees the City and County get from Google.

Since the City and County are able to decide how to use this revenue generated by the enterprise zone agreements, it provides them with flexible funding to address significant community issues.

Past revenues from enterprise zone agreements have been used to further The Dalles and Wasco County’s economic development activities, enhance public broadband utility, provide programs at Columbia Gorge Community College, and provide assistance to Northern Wasco School District 21 and the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue.

Google’s presence in the area also provides other benefits such as grants the company has awarded to Wasco County schools and non-profits totaling $ 1.2 million, and $350,000 for The Dalles public Wi-Fi. Google employees also volunteer their time, energy and talents to many non-profits in the Gorge Area.

Portland Economic Development Partnership With Jaguar Land Rover Provides Unusual Public Benefits

Following the Portland City Council’s approval of an enterprise zone boundary agreement to facilitate Jaguar Land Rover’s Innovation Incubator project, the company has formed a partnership with the Portland Development Commission and Drive Oregon to further the goals of this project.


Jaguar (photo – landrovermena/flickr)

Jaguar Land Rover will be investing up to $4 million into the Innovation Incubator project, and plans to hire 50 experienced engineers and developers who will work directly with the startups that will be housed in the incubator.

JLR opened a technology center project in Portland in 2013. The incubator project will be housed in a second new facility. PDC had been working with JLR on its business development plans for more than a year, and Portland secured this latest project over competition from New York City and other overseas locations.

Portland economic development incentives approved to support the project include tax savings of $382,000 for JLR over the next five years made possible through the Enterprise Zone boundary agreement approved by the City Council. Drive Oregon is additionally providing a $50,000 grant to support the incubator’s launch and subsequent operations.

Over and above the usual benefits of job creation by JLR and the incubation support they will be providing for startups working on automotive technologies, the agreement with the PDC and Drive Oregon is unusual in its scope, offering precedent-setting public benefits and setting a high bar for Portland’s technology industry.

The agreement calls for the partners to work on the project together to align equity, entrepreneurship, and workforce goals to drive hiring of underrepresented populations for high-quality local jobs.

One of the things JLR has agreed to is to offer a youth internship program, along with extensive community engagement initiatives, and employment opportunity outreach to historically underrepresented communities.

The company will select up to 12 technology startups every year for the incubator program, and two places out of this will be prioritized for startups founded by underrepresented populations.

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton said in a release that their 2015-20 Strategic Plan identifies just this kind of partnership to advance their goals for a more inclusive economy.

Matt Jones, Head of Future Infotainment, Jaguar Land Rover, who has been picked to manage the Innovation Incubator project, said in the release that this incubator approach will enable them to seek out and encourage young companies with brilliant ideas for new technologies who may lack the technical skills or knowledge of the automotive industry to move their ideas forward.

Drive Oregon Executive Director Jeff Allen added that they look forward to continuing to work with PDC and Jaguar Land Rover to help local startups develop the future of transportation.

Oregon Economic Development Bill Seeks to Revitalize Main Streets

The Oregon Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue is holding a public hearing on an economic development bill that would create a tax credit for certified historic commercial property rehabilitation projects.

Video – Restore Oregon

The Revitalize Main Street Act (SB 565) would establish a 25 percent rebate for certified rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings including hotels, theaters, factories, mills and other income-producing properties.

The bill is being pushed by historic preservation group Restore Oregon, which claims that passage of this bill would provide a boost to Oregon economic development.

They cite an economic impact study by economic consulting firm EcoNorthwest, which looks at the benefits of a state historic rehabilitation incentive for Oregon. According to this study, a $10.6 million state investment by 2018 would result in four times more buildings being rehabbed and would attract $13.3 million in addition federal Historic Tax Credit dollars per year.

It would create 1,369 jobs per year generating an income of $25.5 million, and a $2.3 million net increase in property taxes per year.

The 25 percent rebate would be especially beneficial in revitalizing main streets in rural Oregon communities, where it could be paired with the federal Historic Tax Credit to close the funding gap that prevents historic buildings from being restored. Out of the 2,600 or so buildings that could use the credit if it becomes available, some two-thirds are outside Portland.

Even in urban areas where there are developers willing to knock down historic properties and redevelop them, it is far more environmentally sustainable to rehabilitate and reuse old buildings. It would take over 80 years even for the most energy efficient building to make up for the energy used up for demolishing the old structure and constructing the new one.

If approved, Oregon would join 35 other states that already have a state historic rehabilitation tax credit that complements the federal tax credit available for these projects.

SB 565 would target the state investment towards the most important historic properties in Oregon that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible projects would require to make a minimum rehabilitation investment of $10,000.

The bill creates a State Historic Rehabilitation Fund, and directs the Department of Revenue, in cooperation with State Historic Preservation Officer, to conduct auction of tax credits. The auction proceeds would be deposited in the fund and used for the purpose of offering rebates to property owners for eligible rehabilitation expenses for historic properties.

Oregon Economic Development Team Heading to California to Attract Food Companies

A contingent of local and state economic development officials from Oregon, accompanied by food industry partners, are planning a trip to California to the Natural Products Expo West.

Oregon Food Processing

Oregon Food Processing(photo – ormanufacturing.com)

Team Oregon Food Processing hopes to attract food companies to Oregon and give Oregon food companies a chance to promote their food products.

Apart from Oregon economic development agency Business Oregon, the contingent heading to California includes six food companies and about a dozen local economic developers and representatives for state agencies and other food industry development organizations.

The Natural Products Expo West is the world’s largest natural and specialty foods and beverages event. It also includes the organic foods, supplements, health and beauty products, and natural living and pet food industries. This year, the event is expected to attract more than 2,600 exhibitors and 60,000 attendees to the Anaheim Convention Center, including buyers and manufacturers.

The Oregon team includes members from the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center, Snake River Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Forest Grove. Not to mention economic developers from Lane, Clackamas and Malheur Counties.

The Oregon team will have its own booth and they will be meeting with food companies that attend the event. This is not the first time that the Oregon economic development team is foraging for food companies at this event.

In fact, they first met Chaucer Foods at this show. That resulted in the company announcing a major investment and job creation project last year in the City of Forest Grove with an 85,000-square-foot freeze-dried food processing facility that is expected to create 73 new jobs.

Six Oregon food businesses are also part of the team, and they will be able to set up displays and exhibit their products in the Oregon booth, meet with buyers and network with food industry attendees from all over the world to expand their businesses. More than 84 other Oregon businesses will also be separately exhibiting at the show.

Business Oregon Director Sean Robbins said in a release that Oregon is recognized around the globe for the quality of its food, and added that growing value-added food products is an essential part of the state’s economic strategy because it lifts both rural and urban economies.

Oregon’s $16.5 billion food industry includes about 1,670 companies that provide employment for more than 42,200 people and generate over $673 million in exports. This includes 120 brewing companies and 450 wineries, many of which also export their products worldwide.

Oregon Economic Development Agency Helping Swanson Group Restart Burned Down Mill

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced state assistance to help rebuild and reopen a fire-ravaged plywood and veneer mill in the City of Springfield, OR.

City of Springfield, OR

City of Springfield, OR (photo – Slideshow Bruce/flickr)

The Swanson Group Manufacturing plywood mill in Springfield was destroyed by a fire last year in July.

The company is now rebuilding the mill with funding and support provided by Oregon economic development agency Business Oregon.

No one was injured in the fire at the mill, but the 250 workers employed at the facility got laid off.

Around 43 of these workers have since found jobs at the company’s Glendale, OR plywood mill and their other mills in the state. Swanson will furthermore employ up to 190 people at the Springfield mill after it reopens.

Swanson Group Inc. is a family-owned forest products company that was founded in Oregon in 1951. All their raw material is purchased from environmentally responsible sources and the company has been certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The SFI stamp in fiber sourcing means that the company in question is buying raw materials from environmentally and sustainably conscious timberland owners.

After the mill was closed due to the fire, local leaders and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Team immediately offered assistance to help the company rebuild it.

The Regional Solutions Team made sure that permitting issues for rebuilding the mill were quickly resolved. Business Oregon is offering the company $400,000 in funding for the project in the form of a forgivable loan. The loan will be forgiven once Swanson meets specific job creation goals at the facility.

Gov. Kitzhaber, who visited the Swanson mill along with Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg, said in a release announcing the state assistance for the project that this announcement was a collaborative affair between local, state and private entities with a singular goal to keep Oregonians working.

Mayor Lundberg said in the release that they are very excited that the Swanson Group has chosen to rebuild their mill in Springfield. The Mayor added that they look forward to working with the owners as they begin to rebuild and bring much needed jobs back to their community.

Swanson Group Inc. President and CEO Steve Swanson said that the fire that destroyed the mill last summer has been a huge loss for their company, but they’re very happy to be able to reinvest into Springfield and create good jobs for the community.

Business Oregon Director Sean Robbins noted that Oregon competes on the global stage and companies have the choice to do business anywhere, and added that they are thrilled that Swanson has chosen to rebuild right there at home in Oregon.


Portland Development Commission Gets $300K MDCP Award to Increase Green Building Exports

The Portland Development Commission in Portland, OR is getting $299,420 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration under the Market Development Cooperator Program for increasing exports in the green building industry.

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown (photo – pdc.us)

The MDCP award to the PDC was announced last week as part of a batch of eight awards for 2014, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Chandra Brown met personally with PDC officials on Monday in relation to the award.

The funding will allow the PDC, as a Portland economic development and urban renewal agency, to expand U.S. exports from the region.

It will help the PDC lead foreign trade missions; develop international partnerships; provide local businesses with access to customized market research; and create a business leads database.

Specifically, PDC will be helping the green building industry in the Portland region generate exports to China, Mexico and Qatar.

The MDCP award requires a 2:1 local match, which means the PDC has to put up $600,000 of their own resources for the same purpose. They are planning to invest this $600,000 through the We Build Green Cities initiative to fulfill the terms of the MDCP award.

MDCP award winners also have to commit to sustain the project after the initial award period ends.

Portland Development Commission and the other seven winners of the 2014 MDCP awards are getting a total of $2.2 million, and are in return expected to generate a combined total of more than $3.3 billion in U.S. exports over the next three years.

They won these awards through a competitive process under which applications were evaluated based on factors such as creativity, the applicant’s capacity to attain project objectives, and the likelihood that the applicant will be able to get private companies to take actions that will lead to exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs.

Since the program was launched in 1993, a total of 136 awards have been issued to 106 organizations spread across 32 states, which have together helped generate more than $9 billion in exports. On average, the MDCP program generates $572 million in annual U.S. exports.

The 2015 MDCP awards competition will open in early Jan 2015, and applications will need to be submitted by the end of February. Find out how to apply here, and this is the 2014 FFO.

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