As the Port of Morrow grows, it will recoup some of the money it has spent to ready its property for new business.
Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, recently named the Port’s East Beach Industrial Site as a “Regionally Significant Industrial Site.” The designation is given to entities that are developing sites for industrial use, and offers them tax reimbursement for money they spend on preparing a site.
To qualify for the program, the port had to designate a site and identify reasons the site was not yet “shovel-ready.” Those issues became the port’s development plan. They include providing fresh and potable water, natural gas, rail and sewer improvements.
Once the port has implemented its capital improvement plan and has tenants on the property, half the taxes tenants pay on their employees will be reimbursed to the port, who can then use that money to pay for up to 100 percent of the cost to ready that site. That cost does not include vertical construction, or any work on buildings — only on the lot.
“It could be anything from grade issues, dealing with access, providing utilities,” said Daniel Holbrook, an industrial lands specialist for Business Oregon. “Once the issues are addressed, that site will be regionally significant for industry.”
Port Director Ryan Neal said the port had to identify a site that met some requirements before they could apply for the program. The site had to be vacant, slated for industrial use, and had to provide a minimum of 25 jobs. The East Beach Industrial Site, which the port has identified for development, is about 982 acres, and could provide about 800 jobs, Neal said. He said the site improvements have to be completed by 2023. According to the program, rural sites must also pay employees wages higher than the county or state average, whichever is lower.
The Port of Morrow was the second site in the state to receive the RSIS designation, after the Port of Portland’s Troutdale-Reynolds Industrial Park. The Port of Morrow is the first to qualify for the program since Business Oregon changed the application process last year.