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MILLERSBURG — A $400,000 grant from Linn County will be used as earnest money by the Linn Economic Development Group — an arm of the Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp. — to purchase the 190-acre former International Paper mill at Millersburg, a proposed site for an intermodal transloading facility.

The Albany-Millersburg Economic Development Corp. (AMEDC) board of directors unanimously approved accepting the grant Wednesday. It was approved Thursday morning by Linn County commissioners Roger Nyquist and John Lindsey. Commissioner Will Tucker was on vacation, but previously had voiced his support.

The grant will come from the county’s contingency fund and its share of video lottery funds designated for economic development.

The property sale price is in the $10 million range and the earnest money is nonrefundable.

“In the end, if we are successful, this project will create hundreds of new jobs, improve market conditions for agriculture and manufacturing and over time, put our local economic picture in a better position,” Nyquist said.

Lindsey added, “This will be a great example of a public-private partnership in the long-run.”

The grant will allow AMEDC to move forward with the purchase of the property and to finalize its application, due by the end of September to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The Millersburg project and a project near Brooks are the two finalists to receive $25 million Connect Oregon funds to develop an intermodal transloading facility.

The object is to allow area agricultural and industrial users to move large shipping containers of goods to the facility  by truck, and reload those containers on rail lines, thereby reducing traffic on area roads and Interstate 5.

If the Millersburg property is selected by ODOT, the Linn Economic Development Group would manage the site with a seven-member board of directors.

Nyquist and Lindsey appointed three board members Thursday morning: They are Millersburg resident and Linn County Roadmaster Darrin Lane; State Rep. Andy Olson, who has spearheaded the drive to develop a transload facility in Linn County; and Nyquist.

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The AMEDC board of directors appointed Stacy Koos, vice president and branch manager for Citizens Bank; James Ramseyer, director of energy services for Consumers Power and Albany councilman Floyd Collins.

The six board members will then appoint a seventh member from a user group.

The grant is expected to be repaid within five years of the state’s award. But the grant can be forgiven if the intermodal facility leads to the creation of at least 200 full-time permanent jobs within the five-year period.

In February, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced a list of five potential transmodal sites — Millersburg, Brooks, Lebanon, Portland and Eugene — had been reduced to the final two.

The 2017 Legislature approved funding for such a project as part of its $5.8 billion transportation plan to reduce damage and congestion to roads and increase traffic safety. The plan includes $25 million in Connect Oregon funding to develop another transload facility in Ontario in eastern Oregon.

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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