By Ben Jacklet
State economic development officials have certified three large industrial properties in an attempt to brighten the jobs outlook in Prineville, The Dalles and Ontario.
The project-ready sites include 81 acres in the Prineville industrial park with the new Facebook data center, 101 acres on a former Superfund site in The Dalles and 40 acres in Ontario.
"These three new sites will provide rural Oregonians new job opportunities as we work to create jobs throughout the state," said Governor John Kitzhaber in a statement released this morning.
The unemployment rate in Crook County, home of the new Facebook data center, is 19.2 percent. The rate is much lower in Wasco County (9.6%) and Malheur County (11.8%).
Business Oregon has certified 68 industrial sites since the program began in 2003. Among the recent developments on certified sites are the recently announced $20 million Subaru facility in North Portland, the $400 million Genentech investment in Hillsboro, the $300 million Facebook data farm in Prineville, Google's data center in The Dalles and the Sanyo Solar plant in Salem.
Certified sites offer businesses a faster approval process for environmental, zoning, utilities and transportation issues because public and tribal agencies have already studied them. "Certified industrial sites are attractive to site selectors and developers because they provide more certainty to the development process," says Business Oregon Director Tim McCabe.
Local real estate agents are marketing the sites to growing Oregon businesses and outside companies looking to expand or move their operations.
The process of making a vacant property "shovel-ready" can be a laborious one. The effort to prepare the previously contaminated 100-acre site in The Dalles for redevelopment involved deconstructing 29 buildings at the former Golden Northwest aluminum smelter, and produced some 65,000 tons of recycled material.
Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.