KEZI 9: Veterans’ Home Helping Local Economy

Lebanon, Ore. — A Veterans’ Home in Lebanon broke ground a year ago, but this week the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs said it would spend $26 million to finish the project: a project that is benefiting the local economy.

The approximate $40 million Veterans’ Home will have 154 beds, and 11 houses with a total of 130,000 square feet. The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs says it has been talking about the project since 2008.

“The way the project was created is that Veteran Affairs will provide 65 percent of the funds if the county provides 35 percent,” said ODVA Project Construction Manager John Osborn.

Osborn says communities across the state pitched their towns to host the new vet home. The City of Lebanon applied for the site to be built off of 5th Street, near a new hospital. The site was selected for various reasons, including its proximity to the hospital, and because the city expressed the area as one where residents have a high quality of life, especially seniors.

“Linn County residents passed a levy in 2011 to supply its $10.2 million matching funds,” Osborn said.

And the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce says it’s not surprised.

“These aren’t rich people,” said Shelly Garrett, the Executive Director of the Chamber and Visitors Center. “But the people of Linn County knew how important this Veterans’ Home would be to the area. Not only for the veterans, but also for the economy.”

The contractor on the project, Lease Crutcher Lewis, broke ground a year ago. A local Lebanon plumbing company says it started working on construction in May and will continue until November, guaranteeing employees at least six months of full-time work.

“The economy has been slow like everybody knows,” said M&M Plumbing Owner Matt Mason. “But we’ve been keeping busy with local projects like this around. But this one was definitely really beneficial for us as a company.”

Mason says when he looks around the project site, he sees other subcontractors who are also from the Willamette Valley.

“In the process of building this, they wanted to use local construction people,” Garrett said. “So they contacted the Chamber and said: ‘Can you get the word out that we want to meet these people?’”

Meeting the local businesses they did.

“Lease Crutcher Lewis wanted small and local businesses to get involved in the bidding process,” Mason said.

He says the contractor hired many local companies, and Mason says the money from the project is directly going back into the local economy.

“It’s a massive project,” Mason said. “So all the money just filters back. I buy from local supply houses so all our plumbing supplies are being purchased here locally. And some of the guys working here are from Portland (working for Lease Crutcher Lewis), and to be closer to the job, they’ve actually rented places here, and they’re staying. They’re living here during the week, they’re eating here; they’re shopping here.”

The USVDA says the Veterans’ Home should be opening its doors by the beginning of July.

Watch the full news story here.