Rep. Walden helps get tech center on track

Congressman Greg Walden, R-Ore., cleared the first hurdle on the track to obtain $150,000 of federal start-up funds for a technology center in Hood River.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the allocation by a vote of 393 to 30. That bill, part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2002, must now pass the U.S. Senate before being sent to President Bush for his signature.

"I'm extremely pleased we were able to succeed in securing federal funding for Hood River in this bill," said Walden. "This was a collaborative effort between a number of extraordinarily dedicated Hood River officials, myself and Oregon's senators, and I'm delighted about our success."

He said the federal dollars will be turned over to the Port of Hood River to help establish an integrated technology center with a community college and distance learning program.

"Hood River residents have been hit hard by tough economic times in recent years, and we need as much federal investment in our community as we can get," said Walden. "I'm optimistic about the economic development potential of the technology center and look forward to working with the Port of Hood River on future projects to give a boost to the local economy."

Bill Lyons, president of the Hood River Port Commission, was equally pleased about the funding. "This is great news and the timing is perfect," said Lyons. He said the economic stimulus the technology center will bring to the community is threefold: incorporation of a business incubator for the creation of new jobs, integration of a satellite Columbia Gorge Community College campus, and provision of a terminus for fiber optics (high speed broadband) cables.

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