With the right state investment, with the right ambition, the former landfill on the campus of OSU-Cascades will be the place where business, housing and education knit together an innovation partnership.

A landfill could be transformed. Needed housing could be built. The campus already thrums with energy and research. Businesses could tap in. Their employees could benefit from working and living alongside the vibrancy that a university campus brings. Students could get internships and training to be job ready, right next door to campus.

This Legislature should aim $10 million of its unexpected extra revenue to kick the idea off. It’s an investment in cleaning up the environment. It’s an investment in jobs. It’s an investment in students.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and state Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, made the $10 million request. Knopp told us he may learn Friday if this Legislature will do it. We sure think it should.

The first obstacle: The spot was a landfill. That means clean up. That means higher land costs. Deschutes County didn’t want that responsibility when it sold the land to the university for $1. It would take $34 million for clean up and to put in the infrastructure to build up, the university says.

Yes, it can do it. Look at what it has choreographed with a former pumice mine.

There are businesses already interested in a spot. Oregon State University-Cascades is looking for the right businesses. It wants ones who will buy into its plans for net zero energy and water use. It wants ones eager to partner with the university on technology, research, shared spaces and internships for students.

The state has a unique opportunity to launch what could be a powerful model for development done right. Will our legislative leaders take it?

Article was originally published by Bend Bulletin.