State officials join Odell ceremony

Construction is underway on the new Cardinal IG (Insulating Glass) plant in the mid-valley — and Gov. Ted Kulongoski is joining Hood River County in a celebration.

The governor is expected to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The event is open to the public and will take place at the industrial site which formerly housed the lower Hanel Mill. Also attending will be Cardinal President Roger O’Shaughnessy, and both Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett, and Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Mt. Hood. They will be joined by numerous other local government leaders and business representatives.

“This is an opportunity for the community to come together around the project that has involved a great deal of time and energy from partners at both the state and local levels,” said Hood River Economic Development Coordinator Bill Fashing, who organized the event.

He said refreshments will be served and several speakers will take the podium to dedicate the Gorge branch of the national company. The $8 million facility will utilize about 10 of the 12 acres purchased by Cardinal from the Hanel Development Company late last winter. The new operation is expected to be up and running in January and provide 60 jobs initially, with more openings planned as production increases.

“I’m proud to have been a part of bringing this great company to our area for much-needed job opportunities and I know they are going to love it here,” Smith said.

David Windsor, plant manager, said the schedule for construction of the 185,000 square foot building has stayed on track largely because of the efforts expended by officials at all levels of government. Once the glass assembly company stated its intent to move to Odell in February, Cascade Locks expanded its state designated Enterprise Zone to the Hanel site so the new owner would qualify for start-up tax breaks. In addition, Hood River County undertook a land-use exception process that allowed an immediate expansion of sewer lines to the property. Meanwhile, Smith and Metsger successfully lobbied for the passage of legislation that streamlined the regulatory process to redevelop abandoned mill sites. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., also vowed support for the project, calling it a “shining ray of hope” for the county.

“This project is a culmination of a collective effort by many people to bring jobs to our community. I think this groundbreaking represents the beginning of a turnaround in job creation for the Mid-Columbia and is a harbinger of things to come,” Metsger said.

Windsor said the hiring process for employees to assemble the energy-efficient windows is also underway, and there appears to be no shortage of qualified workers.

“We’re very excited with who we are finding, there are very good people around here,” Windsor said. “I’m very excited about this, everyone has just come through for us.”

Cardinal selected Odell for its newest plant because the elevation, at 680 feet above sea level, was the perfect match to prevent breakage during the sealing process for double-pane and triple-pane glass.

The company was founded in 1962 as a single manufacturing firm in Minneapolis, Minn., which remains its headquarters.

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