Brand Story - Primed for growth with shovel-ready industrial parks
Not many port districts are able to boast access to river transportation, railways, highways and an airport, but the Port of Columbia County is one of them. And with acres of industrial park properties ready for leasing, the Port is primed for growth.
Columbia County is in Oregon’s far north, on the Washington border north of Portland, adjacent to the Columbia River on its northern and eastern border. The port district stretches for 51 miles from north to south, with many different sectors represented, including industrial, commercial, agricultural, and recreational uses. From east to west, the port district is a 6-mile strip that includes the cities of Scappoose, St. Helens, Columbia City, Rainier, and Clatskanie.
Scapoose Air Park
“Ninety three percent of the county population lives within the port district and the district includes all the major towns in that area,” says the Port’s executive director Doug Hayes.
The Port was created in 1940 to promote economic development in the district. Originally called the Port of St. Helens, it was renamed in 2018 to be more representative of the entire district. St. Helens, which is in the middle of the district, is less than thirty minutes from Portland by car. The district is only 18 miles from downtown Portland from its southern boundary. Today, the Port of Columbia County owns 10 different property sites and 2,400 acres of land, including the Scappoose Industrial Airpark, McNulty Industrial Park, Columbia City Industrial Park and Port Westward Industrial Park.
The Columbia City Industrial Park in Columbia City offers dock access to the Columbia River, along with rail and highway access. The McNulty Industrial Park in St. Helens provides access to rail and highway, and is state-certified for development. The Scappoose Industrial Airpark in Scappoose offers a 5,100-foot, 100 feet-wide runway. There, construction is nearly complete on a 31,500 square-foot building for a new tenant, Titan Aviation, which offers private charter flights.
The McNulty property is 47 acres of shovel-ready property, meaning the site is permitted and the tenant can proceed right away with building to suit.
McNulty Industrial Park in St. Helens is a certified site by the State of Oregon.
“That’s a prime opportunity for manufacturers,” says Real Estate and Business Development Manager Matt Miller. “It’s adjacent to a highway that is only 25 miles to I-5. We have a lot of flexibility there so we can really work with clients to build it out for them.”
At the Scappoose Industrial Airpark, tenants “inside the fence” must engage in aviation-related activities because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, but that has provided opportunities for many types of businesses or private users including a flight training school, aircraft or helicopter assembly, aviation accessory or component manufacturing, corporate or recreational flying.
“The Airpark has a GPS-based instrument landing system and full lighting, among other amenities that we closely maintain, and we’re always improving the facility with the help of the FAA,” says Operations Manager Craig Allison. Infrastructure, such as sewer connections and water mains are already in place for much of the facility.
Sport Copter, a builder of gyroplanes, is one of the several aviation companies located at Scappoose Industrial Airpark.
The coronavirus pandemic has minimally impacted the Port, and it was able to set its property tax levy to zero this year for the first time, lowering overall tax rates for district residents.
“This is remarkable for businesses and residents who live within the port district,” says Hayes. “We are only the second port in the state of Oregon to be able to do that.”
The infrastructure is sized to handle significant growth at the airport, as well as on adjacent properties, says Allison. For example, 20 acres on the airport’s northwest boundary is available for commercial development. The district has also acquired more property to the west and southwest. To the east is a privately owned 380-acre development, which is adding its own roads and infrastructure. The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, or OMIC, which is a partnership of Fortune 100 and 500 companies pursuing innovation to improve advanced manufacturing processes, is right across the street from the airport.
A 31,500-sq.-ft. building is under construction for new tenant Titan Aviation.
Columbia County has other things going for it. It has affordable single-family home prices that are nearly 30% lower than Multnomah County, which includes Portland. Total employment grew over the past decade in the county by 22%, and there are opportunities for that to continue growing. In early 2020, Portland Community College broke ground on its first permanent training center in the region, next to the OMIC grounds. The center will be a hub for manufacturing training, including machining, welding, and electrical and mechanical engineering, to prepare the next generation of skilled workers.
“The port is growing the number of businesses and the number of jobs,” says Miller. “It comes down to affordability, flexibility and access, and we can provide that for businesses in a very compelling way.”
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