April 23, 2021 – (By Doug Hayes, Executive Director) The Port of Columbia County plays an important role in the attraction, retention, and expansion of businesses in the port district, which spans the entire 51-miles of Columbia River frontage of Columbia County, Oregon. The top priority for the Port in 2021 continues to be economic growth, specifically development at the Scappoose Airport, McNulty Creek Industrial Park in St. Helens, and Port Westward Industrial Park in Clatskanie.
The Port recently completed a 31,500-square-foot building at Scappoose Airport that is currently available for lease to a light industrial tenant for aviation uses. The building includes 27,000 square feet of clear-span hangar space with complete fire protection and 4,500 square feet of office space. The Port worked closely with local and State Fire Marshal’s offices, State Building Codes Division, and other key stakeholders to implement a suitable and affordable fire protection solution for this project, possibly making it a model for new airport projects statewide.
The Port has completed additional projects at the airport in recent years, including the Taxiway-B Relocation Project and the Airpark Water/Sewer Project that brought sanitary sewer service to the west side of the airport. These capital investments provide capacity for future growth, both inside and outside the airport fence.
The Port intends to develop a portion of the 47-acre, certified shovel-ready site at McNulty Creek for Composites Universal Group (CUG), a longtime tenant of the Port’s at Multnomah Industrial Park. CUG signed a letter of intent for a built-to-suit, 48,000-square-foot building of production, warehouse, and office space. CUG currently employs 60 workers in St. Helens and is looking for a new space where they can continue to expand their growing business.
The Port is also in negotiations to build an additional 32,000-square-foot building at McNulty Creek. A new commercial tenant has signed a letter of intent for 16,000 square feet of the space, while the other half of the building will be available for commercial or industrial lease. The Port will soon start the bidding process for the design and engineering phase for both projects.
At Port Westward, Global Partners received and shipped their first load of renewable diesel in February of 2021. Global Partners plans to transload renewable diesel for a minimum of five years. Renewable diesel is a cleaner fuel derived from plant and animal byproducts and can be used in any diesel engine. It can help reduce greenhouse emissions and help meet state and federal climate standards. There is huge demand for renewable diesel, driven in part by government climate policy.
Additionally, the Port is working with NEXT Renewable Fuels to build a $1.6 billion renewable diesel production facility at Port Westward. When complete, the NEXT Renewable facility will have capacity to produce approximately 50,000 barrels a day of renewable diesel fuel. Renewable diesel is different than other biofuels because it is a fully replaceable product to current diesel fuel and based on initial production, the net emissions savings will be equal to removing 1 million vehicles from the road. The facility will position Oregon—and Port Westward—as a leader in advanced biofuels production.
Currently in the permitting phase, NEXT hopes to have approvals on a timeline to begin construction in the first quarter of 2022. Based on this timeline, it is scheduled to open at Port Westward in 2024. More than 800 jobs will be created during the construction phase and more than 200 full time, highly paid and skilled jobs will be created once it is operating.