March 25, 2003 11:00 pm

Crickets once grew inside this old building at the Airport Industrial Park near La Grande.

When Jeff Oveson gets through remodeling it, the building will have a design which should help a half-dozen local emerging businesses grow.

The ugly, green-topped 100- by 150-foot, essentially windowless concrete block of a building was given to the Union County Economic Development Corporation by Community Bank after the bank foreclosed on the owner. It had been used by the R&R Bait Co., which grew crickets for sale as pet food.

UCEDC recently completed the sale of the 2.2-acre site on Smith Loop to Oveson, who will remodel it, putting in windows and a number of doors as well as remodeling the inside to include seven work bays of about 1,500 square feet each for startup companies wanting to locate there.

There will be four offices as well as a reception area, a break room and bathrooms.

"We'll repaint, put in concrete walkways. It is structurally fine, but it will look like a new building," Oveson said.

UCEDC will manage the facility for four years under the terms of the sale. UCEDC has some prospects interested in locating in the center, said UCEDC executive director Joel Frank.

A committee is working on a marketing plan, hoping to have it ready by the time the remodeling is completed in June.

Oveson, who lives in Wallowa and manages the Grande Ronde Model Watershed, said contractor Lyle Davidson will start the remodeling project "right away and should be done in 90 days."

Oveson said the interior will be designed with moveable walls to accommodate the businesses as they grow or shrink or to accommodate various size businesses when they first locate there.

"I know there are about three businesses interested in locating in the building. I think it will appeal mainly to light manufacturing-type businesses.

– Ray Linker