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|Articles - March 2014|
|Tuesday, February 25, 2014|
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BY SOPHIA BENNETT
The coastal town of Coos Bay appears poised to land every economic development director’s dream: a single employer that will bring hundreds of family-wage jobs and millions in tax revenue.
The Jordan Cove Energy Project, a joint effort between Canadian energy group Veresen and Oklahoma-based infrastructure company Williams, is considering building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the north spit of Coos Bay. The facility would accept natural gas from a new pipeline originating in Klamath County, liquefy it and ship it to markets in Asia.
Michael Hinrichs, director of public affairs for the project, says the effort represents a $7.7 billion investment, which would make it the largest single private investment in the state’s history. “That’s even more significant when you consider it’s in southern Oregon, an area that really needs development.”
Building the LNG facility and accompanying power plant will bring 2,100 construction jobs to the region, Hinrichs reports. Pipeline construction will bring an additional 1,400. Once the plants are up and running, they’re expected to employ up to 200 people and create 700 indirect jobs.
How many of those workers will be locals is still a matter of debate. Jordan Cove aims to hire construction workers from Southern Oregon, Hinrichs says. However, many of the positions at the LNG plant and the pipeline are highly specialized and require skills residents are unlikely to possess.
Rodger Craddock, Coos Bay’s city manager, still considers the glass half full. “We’re looking at all the spin-off businesses that will develop to service those new workers,” he says. He points to a new hardware store, an auto-parts store and a microbrewery that recently opened in the area. Properties that have been off the market for a long time are coming back because people realize changes may be coming.
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