Linn-Benton Community College has cut the ribbon to something new, and innovating.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Linn-Benton Community College held a public grand opening for their new Innovation and Heavy Equipment Diesel Training Center on 2000 Oak St. in Lebanon, Ore.
The event was full of guests, many political and corporate, such as Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Peter DeFazio, and Jim Merryman,the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oregon Freeze Dry, as well as several state and local elected officials.
At 11:15 a.m., the program started, led by Merryman. Merryman called Greg Hamann, President of LBCC, to the microphone.
“There are a lot of ways to describe a perfect project,” said Hamann, “We want to open this industry, especially clean fuels and alternatives,”
According to Hamann, who touched on topics about the college, Linn-Benton has recently gone through an accreditation visit, which entails more for the college.
“Let’s see what we do next!” said Hamann
Senator Ron Wyden then spoke to the crowd of hundreds, and started out with a joke:
“This is going to be a filibuster free zone, so get ready!”
Senator Wyden commended LBCC on making this plan a reality. Calling the Heavy Equipment Diesel Training program a “Hallmark for CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).” He then pondered on what the new facility means for driver-less cars, such as the autopilot feature on Tesla S models.
Wyden spoke to the audience about taxes as well; there are 40 tax breaks that exist, costing Oregonians a lot of money. Wyden’s plan to fix that is removing 37 of the tax breaks. The remaining three are all related to clean energy, and LBCC qualifies for all of them.
Congressman Peter Defazio spoke about LBCC’s need for funding. He believes with this building more funding will come for innovation programs.
“These students will have no trouble finding jobs,” said Defazio, “Channeling young people into great jobs improves Oregon’s economy.”
Community leader Gray Marks came to the podium; attending in the place of Lebanon’s Mayor Paul Aziz. He explained Aziz could not make it due to surgery for what Aziz described in his letter as “very treatable” throat cancer. Marks described how this area of Oak Street was once a field, but now has a school for LBCC.
“Indeed, this is a step forward for our community,” said Marks.
Merryman returned to the podium to close the ceremony, commencing the ribbon cutting. A lunch was provided by Northwest Natural, and staff of the facility gave tours at the end of the program.
The Innovation and Heavy Equipment Diesel Training Center as over 37,000-square-foot training center includes state-of-the-art equipment to train students in heavy equipment, diesel repair, and an Innovation Center, which provides an area for training and testing equipment.
The Diesel program was moved to the new innovation center, which opens up the area of the main Albany campus for expansion and other fields of study.
The building first opened in fall 2013 as an Advanced Transportation Technology Center, the only broad-spectrum training facility between Seattle and San Francisco.
Construction of the Innovation and Heavy Equipment Diesel Center was made possible in part by $1.5 million from the State of Oregon government, $1.5 million from Federal Economic Development Administration, and $2 million from a $34 million bond measure that voters passed in 2014.
Story by Hannah Buffington