The White House announced Friday that a large infusion of government funding will be given to a nonprofit in Oregon that is working to provide affordable housing and grow the state’s forestry business.
The Mass Timber Coalition, an organization led by the Port of Portland and made up of several agencies from the state of Oregon, will receive $41.4 million from the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” an economic development competition supported by President Joe Biden‘s coronavirus relief program.
With the help of this funding, a manufacturing facility in the Port of Portland will construct and provide highly processed wood panels for modular homes that will be used as affordable housing all throughout the state.
The program is intended to advance construction methods that use treated and reinforced wood for projects that wouldn’t be feasible with conventional timber and to grow the state’s “mass timber” industry.
At Terminal 2, a little-used marine dock close to downtown, more than $10 million will be spent on the construction of a manufacturing plant.
Projects involving forest restoration will receive additional funding in the Willamette National Forest. And some of it will be used to change local building regulations so that mass timber building is permitted, notably in Oregon regions that have been affected by wildfires.
And some of the money will be used to do studies on the application of mass wood in housing at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.
The plant will eventually construct around 2,000 modular homes annually, according to Curtis Robinhood, executive director of the Port of Portland. He added that the first phase of the building won’t begin until 2024 and that it won’t be ready to start producing residences for another year or two.
However, the coalition will be able to swiftly begin working to bring bulk timber into mainstream use and to fund programs for forest restoration thanks to the influx of money, he claimed.
From talking to doing, we are now. It’s always bumpy there, he said. The longer-term need for additional funding to make this work is the more pressing issue.
However, he claimed that the opportunity to begin the projects excites him. It’s a substantial investment in an extremely cutting-edge area, he said.
21 regional organizations will share $1 billion in business and workforce development programs from the federal government. Each of the 24 state-wide winners will get a prize of between $25 million and $65 million.
The White House said that the administration officials who handled the competition gave rural, Tribal, and low-income towns, as well as communities that had relied on coal for job opportunities, additional consideration.
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