Columbia County Spotlight
Construction on a new building at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center is set to start this summer. OMIC Research and Development gained its initial Scappoose building in 2016, when the Oregon Institute of Technology purchased the building and the surrounding gravel pit. Now, OMIC is set to construct a new 30,000-square-foot building to the east side of the existing building.
OMIC’s purpose is to advance manufacturing techniques by bringing together researchers, students, and industry partners. OMIC currently has 37 industry partners.
Rendering of the future Additive Innovation Center
The new building will focus on additive manufacturing, which means creating an object by adding layers of material, like in 3D printing.
“The kinds of things that we’re going to be doing in the building, you won’t see them anywhere else in the United States,” said Josh Koch, OMIC R&D’s business development manager.
“The membership of OMIC has told us that disruptive technology is what we need to look at,” Koch said. Disruptive technologies are innovations that drastically change how industries and customers operate, by making a product or process simpler, cheaper and more accessible. Cellphones, personal computers and community colleges were all disruptive innovations when they emerged. In manufacturing, 3D printing is a current disruptive technology.
Workers will break ground on the project in August and start constructing the metal building in February. By June 2022, staff can begin moving equipment into the new building, for a ribbon-cutting later that summer, Koch said.
The new building will be similar to the existing building, with a large open shop space, Koch said. The building will also include two 40-person classrooms, which can be expanded to fit 80 people, and other work spaces.
“We expect that this is building number two of four buildings,” Koch said.
OMIC R&D recently grew from eight to 12 staff, including hiring their first additive manufacturing researcher. Koch said OMIC will hire more researchers as the additive manufacturing operations grow.
The building was designed locally by AKAAN Architecture + Design, run by Al and Kannikar Petersen in St. Helens.
The Scappoose planning department deemed OMIC’s development application incomplete last week, but officials said OMIC’s consultant team had quickly reached out to follow up on the city’s request for more information. The consultants “are actively working to address our comments,” City Planner Laurie Oliver Joseph said July 28.
The state legislature approved $12.9 million for construction and equipment for OMIC and OIT in 2019.
Of that, $3.5 million was intended for construction of the building, $6 million was for equipment, and $3.2 million was for OIT work in other parts of the state.
Koch said the amount allocated for construction was far from enough, but staff didn’t initially realize how expensive the building would be.
The total construction budget comes out to $12.4 million, using additional state bonds and operational funding that OMIC set aside over the past four years, Koch said.
“Originally we only had enough funding to build the shell of the building and complete a classroom, the entryway and a bathroom,” Koch explained.
With the additional $5 million in state funds, “we were able to begin the process of selecting a general contractor to complete the remainder of the work which includes staff offices, collaboration space, labs, and powder metal handling rooms,” he said.
OMIC has relationships with multiple colleges and universities in Oregon; OIT is the host university for OMIC, Oregon State University and Portland State University are the other two of three academic partners, and Portland Community College has opened the OMIC Training Center just across the road.