Congressman David Wu and OSU President Ed Ray discuss the
U.S. Rep. David Wu and OSU President Ed Ray at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center

The long-awaited celebration of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Operations Center move to Newport went from a dream to reality on Thursday, June 3, when the Port of Newport held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility, scheduled to open in 2011.

OSU President Ed Ray joined an all-star cast of speakers at the event, praising the community of Newport for submitting the winning bid – and more importantly, for having the vision to create an enclave of marine science research and education that will draw international attention.

Joining Ray as invited speakers were U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader and David Wu, and many other state and local elected officials.

Speaker after speaker praised the Port of Newport, its commissioners, the state Legislature’s Coastal Caucus and Oregon’s federal delegation for their belief, perseverance and collaboration. Ray said the power of teamwork, demonstrated in the NOAA-to-Newport proposal, is a lesson that should prompt the entire state to sit up and take notice.

“Oregon should take heart from this example,” Ray said. “It demonstrates to all Oregonians that we can compete with anyone, anywhere, and that we can not only do things well, but do things that are world class. Newport provides us with the blueprint showing just how effective collaboration can be.”

Oregon State University also was recognized for its research and education excellence at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, where OSU and NOAA scientists have worked together for decades.

Several hundred spectators from the community and around the state were joined by numerous news media outlets at the groundbreaking, held at the new NOAA homeport site just west of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. As the speakers lauded the NOAA decision, heavy earth-moving equipment rumbled outside as workers busily began preparing the site for construction.

NOAA will lease the facility from the Port of Newport for 20 years beginning in May of 2011. The annual impact for the community is estimated at $20 million annually, Port officials say.

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