Media Room

Oregon BEST Fest

Let’s begin by thanking David Kenney and his team at Oregon BEST.

Clearly, they put on a great event every year. But the rest of the year they run a critical research center for our state. In Oregon, we believe that economic growth and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive ideas. Oregon BEST makes that idea reality - ensuring we are a leader in advancing Oregon’s cleantech economy and sustainable development. David and his team are helping Oregon show the world that making smart decisions now is critical to building a more resilient and sustainable economy for the future.

Earlier today, I met with women founders and CEOs of  several companies that have received support from Oregon BEST. Two of these companies - Onboard Dynamics from Bend and Rogue Rovers from Ashland - were invited to the White House two weeks ago . Their founders - Rita Hansen and Melissa Brandao – even had the chance to meet with President Obama. Rita and Melissa are a great example for Oregon. Of the 35 Oregon BEST Companies, 28 percent are founded by women. This an impressive number, given that in 2013 women started only three percent of the technology companies in Silicon Valley . 

I’m here today to applaud the entrepreneurs that are advancing Oregon’s economy and all that we’ve done on the clean technology front in Oregon. But most importantly, to look ahead at what’s next.

When we think of clean tech we think of things like LEED certification, clean fuels, and energy storage. Yet, the next step in innovation may come from a well-established resource – our forests.  They are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon, expanding opportunity for communities hit hard by the decline of the natural resource economy.

Cross-Laminated Timber - or C-L-T as we call it – are massive engineered wood panels that are surprisingly strong, cost competitive, aesthetically pleasing, and made from a sustainable resource. CLT is a product of an advanced manufacturing process that enables construction of a range of buildings, even wooden skyscrapers. Our friends in Europe and Canada are already using CLT, and the world is taking notice.

In fact, the podium I’m standing at now is built from CLT.

While CLT is becoming fashionable, it presents a new opportunity for Oregon, and we are perfectly suited for this work. Our forests grow the most desirable species for use in CLT, and we recognized that if this product were going to hit the market, it made more sense for it to emerge from our state than any other. 

If we can foster the innovation to grow and develop the advanced wood manufacturing industry, we have a chance to reinvigorate the natural resources based economies that once made our rural communities strong.

Today, I am here to tell you that Oregon intends to seize this opportunity.

Oregon’s universities, state agencies, and non-profits have been working together to make Oregon the first U.S. supplier of CLT. 

Today, I'm pleased to announce ,that after a great deal of research, more than 350-thousand-dollars in state investment, and the commitment and vision of a family-owned, rural Oregon company – D-R Johnson - Oregon is now the first certified, commercial producer of Cross Laminated Timber in the United States. 

This is a milestone moment for Oregon. We are grateful for Valerie Johnson’s leadership at D-R Johnson and to Oregon BEST, Oregon State, the U-of-O, and everyone else who helped put Oregon at the leading edge of CLT manufacturing..

But this momentum needs our help to continue.

CLT presents such a new paradigm in construction that building codes are still catching up with this innovation. Our codes allow the use of CLT, but each project is required to meet performance criteria for seismic, fire, acoustic, and other critically important standards. This process usually costs 100-thousand to 250-thousand-dollars in performance modeling and testing. 

Oregon wants to help builders use CLT more often and prove that it’s as safe and affordable as traditional building materials.
To help make that happen, I am happy to announce a new design competition to encourage builders to help prove that CLT is the next step in clean technology innovation. 

The winner of this competition will receive 200-thousand dollars in funds and services to cover the required testing and documentation for their project. But, those funds will do much more. They will help create replicable testing data that can be used by future CLT projects. 

This work begins now. Starting today, you can go to Oregon BEST’s website and learn more about the competition, and begin your applications on October 1. 

I’d like to congratulate the National Center for Advanced Wood Products Manufacturing and Design for working with Oregon BEST to make this exciting competition possible. The Center is a new collaboration between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. 

I look forward to seeing what Oregon can do. 

Thank you.