Legislature approves funding for ‘Regional Center for Innovation’

Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, announced Monday that the Legislature approved the Committee on Capital Construction’s recommendation to fund $7.35 million for the Columbia Gorge Community College Regional Center of Innovation for the 2013-15 biennium.

“I am very happy to learn that we have been able to secure the needed bonding assistance from the state to enable the development of the Regional Center of Innovation to proceed,” Johnson said. “I’ve worked hard this session to focus attention on the great work that Columbia Gorge Community College is doing in our area and the good news today means that they will be able to expand their mission to assist more residents of the Gorge.”

The Regional Center of Innovation is a rural, bi-state model for manufacturing, innovation, investment, training and education. One of the main priorities of the CGRC is developing a training and education system for incumbent workers, veterans and at-risk youth in the Gorge.

“Gov. Kitzhaber’s vision of a seamless K-20 educational system demands an active partnership between all levels of education, the community and private enterprise. The Columbia Gorge Regional Center of Innovation will demonstrate how the knowledge students learn today will translate into marketable careers tomorrow,” said Dr. Frank Toda, president of Columbia Gorge Community College.

The Regional Center of Innovation strives to achieve partnerships between school districts, community colleges, employment trainers, regional universities and economic partners to facilitate the relationships that create opportunities for new jobs in the community.

“The Advanced Technology Center is a critical piece of this regional initiative to connect partners together in Hood River with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Students will learn how math, science, reading and social skills apply in the real world. The result will be a trained workforce and a vibrant regional economy,” Toda said.

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