Port signs fishmeal processor to long-term lease

Edward Stratton, The Daily Astorian, Ore.
·2 min read

Mar. 3—The Port of Astoria Commission has agreed to a lease with Scoular at the Airport Industrial Park in Warrenton that could take the grain-and-feed trading company through 2061.

Scoular, based in Omaha, Nebraska, plans to spend around $10 million building a plant along 12th Place next to the airport turning seafood scraps from local processors into fishmeal for aquaculture and pet food.

"This is the largest development project that the Port's undertaken in certainly since my tenure, and the largest one in the last 10 years or so," said Matt McGrath, the Port's deputy director.

The lease initially pays the Port more than $2,000 a month, including rent credits. It jumps to $4,000 a month in 2022 and escalates to more than $4,700 a month by 2026. The original term lasts 20 years, with four five-year renewal options.

"There's a lot of components moving along with this," McGrath said. "Helligso Construction is working on getting the site prepped and should be able to start work once the city of Warrenton gives the approval."

Scoular hopes to open the plant in the spring. By then, the Port will install a pressurized sewer system to cut down on tidal infiltration at the airport swamping Warrenton's wastewater treatment plant.

"I think it's very exciting to see the Port move forward on this," said Dirk Rohne, the president of the Port Commission.

The lease comes as Scoular is moving through the approval process to join the Clatsop Enterprise Zone, which offers five years of property tax breaks on new investments. The company's application, along with another from the owners of Buoy Beer Co., has been approved by the Astoria City Council but still needs the signoff from the Port, Warrenton and Clatsop County.

As part of the enterprise zone, Scoular would save an estimated $641,000 on property taxes over five years in exchange for building the plant and creating new, higher-paying jobs.

Tom Wortmann, director of corporate development and strategy at Scoular, said the new positions would include a plant manager, quality manager, finance manager and other skilled operators.

"We're trying to run a lean facility here, so a skilled operator is someone that knows how to run the equipment, and if it breaks, knows how to fix the equipment," he said at a recent primer on enterprise zones. "I think you'll see a very skilled workforce we're looking to employ here."