Longview seeks to create sustainable business park on Columbia River

Longview seeks to create sustainable business park on Columbia River

To find the future use of Longview’s old aluminum plant, local leaders are taking inspiration from across the Atlantic Ocean.

The goal is to build a business park along the Columbia River where each industry uses the other’s waste or byproducts to reduce waste and save money.

The design was first conceived in Denmark, where local leaders recently visited to see the sustainable model in person and visualize how the green project could be used at home.

“If you can sell sludge to someone who can turn it into a biofuel, then it’s a win for the company that needs to get rid of the sludge and a win for the company that needs their projects,” Economic Development Council President Cowlitz. said Ted Sprague.







GreenLab Denmark

An overhead view of the GreenLab business park in Spøttrup, Denmark. Longview leaders are considering creating a similar park, where industries use each other’s byproducts, along the Columbia River.


Burn Kauffman



Plan

The Economic Development Council is asking the state Legislature for $2.5 million to take the first design steps in creating what they call this “industrial symbiosis park.” The money will be split between the council and the Port of Pasco, which is planning to build a similar park roughly 230 miles upriver from Columbia.

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The model can be used to redevelop an existing industrial area, but Longview’s preference is to house new industries in a new business park. That is why the former Reynolds Metals site has been put forward as the likely location.

Representatives of GreenLab, the Danish company that created the model, talked with local companies in December about the design of the new Longview park at a workshop held at the office of Northwest Alloys, the former aluminum camp at 4029 Industrial Way.







Northwest Connections

Northwest Alloys sign, captured Wednesday, February 7th in Longview.


Emily Urfer



The land is in the middle of a $28 million cleanup of contaminated soil by the Department of Ecology and current owner Alcoa, the parent company of Northwest Alloys. An Alcoa spokesperson told The Daily News that mitigation work was about halfway through and they hoped to clean up the site by January 2025.

Sprague said the location would work for the scale and energy needs of a greenfield industrial park. The Columbia River could be used for hydroelectric power, and the land was previously developed for large-scale use of electricity. Nearby lumber and paper mills could supply their wood byproducts to a company in the new park. Plus, the environmental covenant the Washington Department of Ecology has placed on the land means the area must remain zoned for industrial purposes.

How does it work in Denmark?

In September, Sprague and Longview community development director Ann Rivers joined a group that visited GreenLab in Denmark.

GreenLab says their model is cheaper for businesses to get rid of their waste or buy materials and creates a sustainable process while reducing the total amount of waste.

Jacob Morgensen, head of business development, said GreenLab helps to understand which companies can complement each other within the country of Denmark and how to design the park for different uses.







Washington group visits GreenLab

Visitors talk to GreenLab managers during a trip to Denmark in the fall of 2023. Local leaders joined the tour to see the new business park model up close.


Ted Sprague, Cont


“It’s a puzzle,” he said. “You’ve got some pieces already laid out and you’ve got kind of a blank slate and you’re trying to figure out what’s a good company that’s going to fit the profile that you have right now.”

The business park in Denmark has seven companies, spread over about 30 hectares. Current customers include cattle and pig farms that provide manure to a biogas production company. On-site wind turbines power a facility that grows and cultivates an invasive starfish species, some of which is used by a third-party company to create pet food.

Sprague said he’s not used to being hands-on with choosing companies to fit in local business parks, but he expects that to change.

“It wasn’t something we focused on in the past and something we’ll be doing a lot more of in the future. Based on the meetings (in December), I see it growing more and more,” he said.

The funding request to the Legislature says the money would cover a business park site map, a feasibility study for the project and an initial master plan. Longview’s park would be inspired by GreenLab, and the Danish company is listed as a sponsor in the funding application.

However, Morgensen said the company may not have the capacity to take an active development role in any Washington projects.

“What we know from experience is that it’s quite easy to get to that stage and say ‘yes, we want to do this,'” he said. “Now comes the hard part of maintaining the level of commitment and having that perseverance.”

The green future

Since joining Longview in 2021, Rivers said its development focus has been on green energy projects because of the availability of support at the state level.

One of the first projects she worked on after joining the city of Longview was the Divert biogas facility, which aims to turn food waste into renewable energy and is currently under construction across from the old Reynolds site in the Mint Farm Industrial Park .

Rivers was also in discussions with the Fortescue Company about a potential hydrogen energy center in Longview before the project eventually landed in Lewis County.

While any work at the business park is still years away, Rivers said local leaders are now thinking about tomorrow.

“Cities have a reputation for delaying and stopping things, and that’s not the role we’re playing,” Rivers said. “It is better to have a plan before you need it, and to know needs before needs arise.”

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