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Local News: Port of Astoria approval brings Fort George a step closer to Enterprise zone abatement for Astoria Warehousing purchase

Local News: At the Port of Astoria Commission meeting Tuesday night, commissioners voted unanimously to approve enterprise zone abatement status for the Fort George Brewery’s purchase of the Astoria Warehousing property on Marine Drive.

by Joanne Rideout

(Script follows, scroll down to Listen [2:19])

The brewery is seeking approval for temporary tax abatement on new investment in the properties. They are investing $12.5 million in the project, including the purchase price for the lots. That amount is the threshold for consideration for an enterprise zone project.

At the port meeting, Kevin Leahy, manager of the Clatsop Enterprise zone, spoke about the project. He said it’s unusual for a rural project to garner this kind of investment, especially from a local firm. He referred to Big Beams, LLC, the business name Ft George is operating under. The brewery will be offering wages substantially above the average county wage, as part of the terms of the enterprise zone agreement. Here’s Kevin Leahy:

Kevin Leahy: “The minimum employment is Big Beams will hire and continue to employ at least 35 full time employees at the facility that we’re talking about by the end of the third calendar year. We did some numbers here, we always talk about our wages here in Clatsop County. We are 71 percent of the wages here in Clatsop County, $38,781 71 percent. The Oregon average is $53,000. This is as of 2018. With Big Beams, with the 130 percent, which is percentage salaries that they need to be paying at this facility, the 130 percent, would be at 49,241 dollars which is 93 percent of the state average. We talk a lot – all of us are dealing with issues with housing and things, and it’s just great to see what we call family wage jobs as part of this discussion this evening.”

The port commissions approval means that two of the needed four area enterprise zone partners have given their OK. The Astoria City Council gave it’s approval at their meeting Monday night. In coming days, Ft George will see the approval of the City of Warrenton and The Clatsop County Commission. Once those permissions are approved, the brewery can move forward with renovations. The 15-year tax abatement enterprise zone agreement applies to taxes on improvements made to the property on Marine Drive. The agreement does not affect property taxes for the lots. I’m Joanne Rideout reporting.