Clatskanie- U.S. Rep. David Wu, has announced that a Columbia County small business has been awarded a $150,000 federal grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Oregon Shepherd, LLC, a Clatskanie business that manufactures products made from low-grade sheep's wool, will use the grant to market its existing products and to research and develop new ones.

"To grow Oregon's economy and create new high-paying jobs we need more investment in small businesses like Oregon Shepherd," said Wu. "I am pleased to announce this grant, which will provide research and marketing dollars to help this innovative Oregon company sustain the wool industry in Oregon."

Oregon is one of the top 10 sheep producing states in the nation, but many of the sheep are raised for their meat rather than their wool. Such sheep have wool that is considered "low-grade" and thus not suitable to make clothing or higher end products.

Oregon Shepherd manufactures products from low-grade wool including pet beds, stadium pillows, emergency and fire suppressant blankets, and environmentally friendly storm water basin inserts. This grant will allow Oregon Shepherd to better market these products and to develop new low-grade wool products, managers say.

"These federal dollars will provide the capital to bring our products fully online and to establish distribution and service channels," said Margaret Magruder, president of Oregon Shepherd. "I thank Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for helping us reach our goals."

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office, under the Value-Added Agricultural Product/Market Development Grant Program.

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