The federal government is jumping on the wagon for what’s called the next great manufacturing breakthrough with wood products in the last 50 years. It’s called “cross laminated timber” for walls, floors and roofs – and probably a lot more. Imagine wood products stronger than concrete and costing less to boot.
Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have announced that Oregon and SW Washington have received a manufacturing designation under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative for the Pacific Northwest Partnership Region. This designation means that the region will receive coordinated support for their manufacturing strategies for cross laminated timber manufacturing from eleven federal agencies with more than $1 billion available in federal economic development assistance.
A 16-county bi-state region, which includes 130 urban, suburban, and rural communities stretching from southwest Washington to south of Eugene, will begin producing cross laminated timber as they create a new dawn of wood products manufacturing.
Green building construction is driving the use of new types of wood products, but currently no production of structural cross laminated timber is occurring in the US. The timber industry in Oregon and Washington is well positioned to orient itself to meet this market demand, and compete effectively with foreign manufacturers in these emerging markets.
(Editor’s note: Cross Laminated Timber processing is already well developed in Europe and in Canada. America again, sadly, is playing catch-up)
In order to qualify for a manufacturing designation, leaders from the private sector, local government, higher education, local economic development organizations, and other nonprofits worked together to identify a sector of manufacturing where their community has a comparative advantage and drafted a strategic plan that addresses: workforce and supply chain challenges; infrastructure; research and innovation; trade and investment; access to capital; and operational improvement for manufacturing companies.
It is also noted that these new manufacturing operations can be set up in many formerly closed lumber mill sites which will bring new economic vitality to currently distressed areas. It’s also suggested that trees on a shortened and tightly managed 50 year growth cycle can be readily used in this new approach to wood products providing strong structural support in new construction.