Earlier this year, Portland Community College collaborated with the Port of Portland to design and submit a proposal for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.”
This fall, the EDA awarded the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition (OMTC) $41.4 million to develop and expand Oregon's emerging mass timber industry. The Port of Portland received the funds of OMTC to enhance Oregon’s established mass timber industry ecosystem – supporting university research involving the use of the resource in housing; spurring development of a factory; funding forest restoration projects; jumpstarting public-private partnerships to grow employment in mass timber construction; and supporting modernization of building codes in Oregon communities impacted by wildfires to enable recovery.
Mass timber is an advanced engineered wood product that is an alternative to the use of concrete and steel in multi-story buildings.
As part of the partnership, PCC will receive approximately $1.3 million to provide training and support and to coordinate the work of the other community colleges in the region in the mass timber construction industry. PCC’s Opportunity Centers -- Willow Creek Center in Washington County and Portland Metro Workforce Center in Northeast Portland -- will partner with community-based organizations to recruit participants, and prepare them to succeed in a non-credit training program at PCC’s Swan Island Trades Center. As part of this effort, PCC will engage Clackamas and Chemeketa community colleges in supporting the needs of the new industry statewide.
“This comprehensive workforce development program will also include training pathways to upskill incumbent construction workers on how to work properly and safely with mass timber products and projects,” said Pam Hester, program dean of PCC’s Workforce Development Department. “In addition, PCC will work closely with the Port of Portland, OMTC and coalition members to provide support to individuals interested in establishing small businesses that serve the mass timber industry through the college’s Small Business Development Center.”
The “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” is an initiative of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Program. It aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild communities and connect urban centers and rural communities, including those grappling with decades of disinvestment. The OMTC is one of 21 coalitions selected from a nationwide pool of 529 applicants to receive funding through this challenge.
The OMTC is a partnership between the Port of Portland, Business Oregon, Oregon Department of Forestry, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the TallWood Design Institute (a collaboration between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University).
For more details on PCC’s Opportunity Centers and their services, visit pcc.edu/opportunity-center/