Linn-Benton Community College and Albany’s business community have asked the Albany City Council for more than $4.3 million in economic development funds.

The money would be used to expand and modernize LBCC’s ability to train mid-valley residents to work in manufacturing and health care — two sectors with strong job markets that are concerned about having enough skilled employees to fill the positions.

Albany city staff support the request for funding, which was presented at Wednesday’s council meeting by Jim Merryman, president and chief operating officer of Oregon Freeze Dry.

The request included letters from Merryman, LBCC President Greg Hamann and Selmet Inc. Vice President Dustin Harrington.

“With the understanding that the economic development funds are both precious and finite, I believe the strongest merit of this request is that it that it is an investment that benefits multiple industries, our citizens, and the community at large, rather than one specific business,” Albany Economic Development Director Kate Porsche wrote in her report to the council.

Porsche noted that LBCC’s board of directors on June 18 decided to ask voters to approve a $34 million bond issue in the fall.

“Approximately one-third of the bond will focus on the Albany campus and, specifically, the repurpose and expansion of their industrial buildings that house the non-destructive testing, welding, machine tool and mechatronics,” she wrote.

Hamann’s letter further explained the funding request of the city.

“As a result of having stakeholders from industry, government and education at the table, we have collaborated on programs, curriculum and facility design that are driven by and meet the needs of industry,” he wrote. “This is how it should be: Linn-Benton Community College providing what the community deems necessary.”

The request is broken into three tiers — two for manufacturing, one for health care — whose total cost would be $4,365,863 if all three tiers were approved by the council.

Tier 1, for manufacturing, is the most expensive at more than $3.2 million.

As of April 2014, there was $4,756,400 in the city’s Economic Development Fund, according to Porsche.

The fund was set up by using part of the $18.5 million the city netted in a settlement with PepsiCo when the company backed out of a deal to build a Gatorade plant in Albany.

The council will take a closer look at the request at its July 7 work session.

Follow Steve Lundeberg on Twitter, @AnyGivenLundy, or email him at steve.lundeberg@lee.net.

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