Scappoose, Oregon – Columbia County

March 4, 2024

Scappoose, Oregon

‘Small Town, Big Community’


Embracing Long Term Growth While Preserving Small-Town Charm

With the tagline, ‘Small Town, Big Community,” the city of Scappoose, Oregon lives up to what it advertises for visitors and its valued residents. With amenities to suit any taste while perfectly preserving its small-town appeal, this town has it all.

Situated just 20 miles from Portland, seamlessly blends rural charm with urban conveniences. As it embraces growth, the city is dedicated to preserving its small-town ambiance and is guided by a 50-Year Plan, which will shape its future over the next half-century. With an intentional approach to progress, this Oregon gem captures the essence of a welcoming community that takes pride in both its past and its future.

Joe Backus, Mayor

Mayor Joe Backus shares, “I am a newly minted mayor, just going on my first year, but a 40-year-plus resident of Scappoose. So, I’ve seen a lot of the changes over time. I’ve seen it grow from 3000 people to over 8000 people. We want to keep that small-town feel. That’s what kept me here and brought my family here. We understand there is growth, and we want to make sure the growth is done in a way that keeps that same small town feel that I grew up with.”

Infrastructure Development

City Manager, Alex Rains, outlined the city’s ambitious infrastructure projects which involve the completion of master plan updates for utilities, the installation of two new water wells, and the development of a new 3 million-gallon reservoir. Additionally, there are ongoing efforts to upgrade water meters, improve the wastewater treatment plant, and establish a new wastewater pump station, including the addition of a new Class A biosolids dryer.

Infrastructure development extends to approximately 1.5 miles of water distribution, involving pipeline replacement and design. Rains notes that the city is committed to annual road maintenance projects, incorporating the addition of sidewalks, particularly in infill projects, to enhance walkability. Scappoose is also focusing on park improvements and the construction of new parks, with recent completions and one that is currently being designed, which is dependent on the availability of funding.

A Vibrant Downtown and an Engaged Community recent

The city is working on plans to enhance downtown Scappoose, attracting businesses and visitors. An Urban Renewal District has been established, and funding options are being considered for façade improvements and other initiatives to improve the aesthetic of the city core.

“We are doing sidewalk infill, but in terms of the downtown look and feel, that is something that the economic development committee is looking at essentially creating a downtown plan for. We have some basic requirements in our downtown overlay zone, but in terms of a more recent or newer plan, that’s forthcoming,” Rains acknowledges.

The mayor emphasizes the collaboration between City Council, Staff, and the Economic Development Committee, to invigorate this area of the community. Initiatives include urban renewal grants, development code policies promoting a walkable and mixed-use environment, and enhancements to amenities like streetlights. The city is actively working on improving sidewalk connectivity through a local fuel tax and the construction of bicycle routes and trails.

He says that as Scappoose moves forward with the downtown revitalization, community events like Earth Day, Movies in the Park, and farmers markets continue to contribute to the vibrancy of the area.

Isaac Butman, Assistant to the City Manager, talked about Scappoose’s commitment to community outreach, conveying that the city is committed to engaging residents, and reaching out through social media and other online platforms to share local events and initiatives.

“We do what we can to support our partners, particularly the library. They do a lot of events in the park here adjacent to City Hall. So, we always kind of look at how we can support the community, connect them, whether that’s at a smaller event or a larger event,” he says.

The Watts House, a Pioneer Museum, and Heritage Park, is home to the Scappoose Historical Society and often hosts events for the community.

“We’ve done some outreach for them, to support them, and we’re always looking for ways to connect and kind of enhance that community,” he maintains. “I would say that with all of our community partners, we’re always looking for ways to help them broaden their message, support them where we can, and be a good steward and a good partner.”

Mayor Backus adds that the city has a community enhancement program that provides grants to nonprofits, to assist them with local events and programs.


Economic Vitality and Growth

The Columbia Economic Team, operating as a public and private mixed membership organization, holds countywide responsibilities encompassing traditional economic development, small business support, and tourism.

Paul Vogel, the Executive Director of the Columbia Economic Team, explains their role as the destination management organization for the county, facilitating programming and tools through collaborations with Travel Oregon and the broader tourism region.

Vogel recounts the city’s participation in a recent destination downtown workshop series, a comprehensive effort involving every community in the county. The focus was on developing strategies and generating ideas to enhance the unique downtown areas, with an emphasis on seeking funding for major projects. The recent round concentrated on improving accessibility, including elements such as sidewalks and ramps to enhance walkability and rideability in Scappoose.

The Economic Development Committee, along with the Urban Renewal District in Scappoose, is actively involved in developing initiatives.

Vogel elaborates, “They are starting to focus closely on what they can do, not only aesthetically, but in terms of encouraging livability businesses, and visitor-oriented businesses and that sort of thing. There’s some initiative by property owners and other interested parties in Scappoose right now to pursue a new hotel. It’s early days, but things are changing.”

As a growing community, Scappoose has much to offer beyond its picturesque landscape and natural amenities. Notably, Scappoose is home to the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), the only advanced and additive manufacturing research and development facility in Oregon, and one of only two in the United States.

Vogel states, “We’ve just built an additive manufacturing center that will build out technology and products and improve technologies in all seven phases of additive manufacturing. The city was foresighted and brought several hundred acres of industrial land into its urban growth boundary some years ago. It was not an easy process, but they planned for the future and made that land available. So, there is a concentrated sector of Scappoose, for development of all manner of manufacturing.”

Mayor Backus boasts, “We’re set up well to handle some new manufacturing businesses and we have 300 acres of shovel-ready land over by our airport, ready to go. As a city, we’re just trying to figure out ways to handle that growth and continue to provide the services that we do, to our existing customers.”

Workforce Development and Community Partnership

Portland Community College has established a satellite campus in the community, serving as a training center aligned with OMIC R&D. According to Vogel, the campus focuses heavily on tech and manufacturing skills through coursework, certification, and degree programs. It also customizes programs for local businesses, offering a valuable resource for skill development.

Despite opening amid the challenges of COVID, the campus has become a significant community asset, providing not only educational opportunities but also serving as a popular community venue for meetings and events. “We were trying to schedule an event there last week, and we had to avoid Monday because the Lego club is meeting there and the Boy Scouts are meeting there,” Vogel Portrays. “I love this because they’re surrounded by these glass-walled classrooms and all this equipment, machinery and lathes and CNC welding. I love the idea of grade school Lego kids getting an early look at what they might like to pursue as a career.”

A Future Vision

Looking ahead, Mayor Backus shares the city’s top goals, which include downtown core enhancement, providing diverse housing options, expanding local job opportunities, and enhancing public safety services and recreational offerings.

“We aim to maintain a small town charm while continuing to grow and improve for the benefit of all residents and the surrounding area,” Backus states. Quoting the words of the city’s Public Works Director, he adds, “We want to make Scappoose the most desired place to live in Oregon.”

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Scappoose, Oregon

What: A Small City Preparing for Economic Growth and Diversity

Where: Columbia County, Oregon



Industrial Systems, Inc –
Industrial Systems has excelled in the Controls and SCADA industry in the NW since 1998. Electrical and control design has been expanded due to demand. We partner with clients to provide long-term solutions for complex electrical and control needs. We have completed scores of projects with Scappoose over the years.

Tapani Inc. –


February 2024

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