The Columbia River Economic Development Council announced Tuesday that it has secured a $75,000 economic development grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to help Chatsworth, Calif.-based aerospace and defense manufacturer United Precision Corp. expand to Clark County.
UPC designs and manufactures nonmetallic seals, pressure-relief products and defense-related hardware, specializing in high-precision machining, according to a press release from the CREDC.
The company’s website describes its products as “a fundamental emergency pressure control component in: propellant tanks, environment control systems, cryogenic tanks, rotorcraft and aircraft fuel inerting systems, and many other systems requiring backup pressure relief.”
The grant funds will go toward site preparation costs for a new 40,000-square-foot facility at the Port of Camas-Washougal’s Steigerwald Commerce Center. The facility will be the first of two planned manufacturing buildings, according to the press release.
“We chose the Port of Camas-Washougal because we believe it is the best location for our people to enjoy a high quality of life and for our business to grow and thrive,” UPC general manager Robert Hawrylo said in a statement. “After talking with the Port, CREDC, Clark College, city and other community leaders, it became clear to us that we had found something really special in Clark County. We believe Clark County is a place where industry, education and community leaders can collaboratively increase highly technical jobs for the region.”
The new facility will serve as a second location for UPC’s operations, according to Hawrylo. UPC is purchasing about 4 acres of property in total, according to port CEO David Ripp.
Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022. The first building is expected to bring 25 new jobs and generate $6 million in capital investment, according to the press release, and UPC’s fully built-out operation is eventually expected to bring the total to 75 jobs.
“We are thrilled that UPC chose Clark County as its new home after evaluating markets like Texas and Florida,” CREDC vice president of business development Clint Hendricks said in a statement. “This is a big win for Clark County as UPC will bolster our advanced manufacturing footprint, helping attract new aerospace supply chain opportunities as well as bringing more jobs, talent development and capital investment to the region.”
Commerce Center mostly built out
The Steigerwald Commerce Center is southeast of Washougal on a roughly 120-acre wedge of land between the Columbia River and state Highway 14. The port began developing infrastructure to support the industrial park in 2012, breaking the process into phases to make it more affordable.
The park is the main developable portion of the Washougal-Steigerwald Opportunity Zone, one of seven such zones in Clark County that were created in 2018 following the passage of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act during the prior year. The program allows investors to defer capital gains taxes on money invested into Opportunity Funds, which in turn must be spent on projects within the zones.
Development has generally proceeded from west to east as new tenants build out individual parcels. The park is now home to a wide variety of businesses, including Ballard Marine Construction, Portland Tractor Inc. and the brewery 54˚40’ Beer. UPC will be among the largest employers at the site when fully built out, according to Ripp.
UPC is purchasing its property rather than leasing it, Ripp said, which is uncommon for the business park but not unprecedented.
“We tend to lease more than sell,” he said, “but given the number of jobs it’s going to create and the type of jobs, the commission viewed this as a strategic sale.”
About 30 acres of developable space remain at this point, Ripp said, divided into nine parcels in the eastern half of the site (excluding UPC’s space). The one remaining piece of infrastructure to be built is a north-south connector between Grant and Lincoln streets, each of which currently end in cul-de-sacs near the eastern side of the park.