Efforts to assist businesses and industries that have common interests are underway in Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.

The Northwest Oregon Works (NOW) Clusters program provides state resources to business/industry segments in each county in the northwest corner of the state, said Mary McArthur, executive director of the Columbia-Pacific Economic Development District.

Areas that will be supported by the program include small manufacturing in Clatsop County; the construction industry in Tillamook County, and aviation businesses in Columbia County.

The NOW Clusters program, which is funded jointly by state, federal and county agencies, is designed to bring together businesses and industries with common interests and goals, and to help them build collaborative endeavors, such as identifying potential customers and designing a collaborative marketing campaign.

Funding assistance for the program runs through September 2008 with the goal to continue the efforts through locally-established business alliances.

In Clatsop County, four small manufacturing businesses already have signed up to be part of the program, and McArthur expects as many as a dozen businesses will become involved when the project kicks off in January.

She said the Clatsop County program will include identifying common needs among the businesses and developing a joint marketing/networking strategy.

In Tillamook County, as many as 12 construction firms or contractors have signed on. That program envisions working with local schools in developing apprenticeship programs in the building trades.

As many as 10 companies affiliated with the aviation industry have signed on for the program in Columbia County, McArthur said. That program, which will be based as Scappoose Industrial Airpark, is expected to include creation of a Web site for the airport, as well as development of a marketing plan to expand the number of aviation-related businesses at the facility.

The Columbia-Pacific Economic Development District (Col-Pac) is a private non-profit organization established to assist in diversifying and strengthening the economy and livability of Northwest Oregon. The district covers all of Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties and the western part of Washington County. For more information visit www.nworegon.org.