Camas Export Development Center taking shape

OPB photo

CID owner Leonard FelixThe goal of the center, according to CID owner Leonard Felix, is to provide a collection of export and manufacturing focused companies with the services and knowledge needed to grow their businesses.

“We’ve developed a lot of expertise in how to open new markets, and how to navigate all the complexities of shipping and exporting,” said Felix. 

CID sells 85 percent of their products outside the U.S., and has been exporting for 20 years. They were awarded the 2011 Global Trader of the Year by the World Trade Center – Tacoma, and in 2010, CID was named SBA Regional Exporter of the Year for the Northwest Region, as well as Washington State SBA Exporter of the Year. With 15 employees, Felix said CID grew 24 percent in 2011 over 2010, and anticipates further growth this year.

When a company first starts exporting, said Felix, there is a lot of paperwork, and sometimes it is difficult to determine the right person to talk to about the paperwork.

“It takes time,” said Felix, “and you have to be intrepid.”

Felix said he envisions the Export Center as an incubator, providing low-cost advice; logistics, design and engineering services; manufacturing services and resources; and office space and infrastructure to companies who want to leverage CID’s exporting expertise.

The CEDC will be located in the former American Legion Hall in downtown Camas. CID bought the building about six months ago, and expects the extensive makeover project, designed by Portland-based ZGF Architects LLP, to begin in about month. They hope to move into the 12,000-square-foot building by the end of the year, using about two-thirds of the space for their own business and one-third for the export center.

Vacant for nearly six years, Felix said the building was about 18 months away from being decrepit beyond repair.

“We walked into the Hall, and were amazed by the giant timbers,” said Felix. “It’s a beautiful building, with a rock-solid foundation.”

Felix said that CID’s goal is to retain and celebrate the heritage of the building, built in 1934 by volunteer Legionnaire labor. When complete, he said, the renovation will make the building historically accurate as well as modern, useable, and a showcase for development in the northwest.

Felix also said that they were looking for additional financial backing for the renovation project, which would both rehabilitate a community landmark and provide a new resource for area businesses.

“After years of decline and flight of manufacturing businesses to steel buildings in outlying industrial parks, we are proud to be bringing manufacturing and jobs back to downtown,” said Felix.