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Sun May 21, 2017, 06:04 PM

An Oregon lawmaker's strange crusade to save an Iowa town -- with Chinese money

CLINTON, Iowa -- Though an elected lawmaker in Oregon, Brian Clem has spent much of the last two years living out of a dorm room at a defunct university in this Mississippi River town trying to make millions.

He's still waiting for his big pay day, with patience waning.

Clem, 44, co-owns the former Ashford University campus, which he and two partners bought at a deep discount after its for-profit owner folded the operation. Under the name Clinton Catalyst LLC., they want to sell the plush 15-acre campus to Chinese investors, whom they envision would turn it into a public boarding school instructing teenagers in science, technology, engineering and math. As Clem sketches it out, Iowans would attend for free while Chinese and out-of-state students pay $40,000 a year.

If he can flip the campus, it could mean a windfall for Clem and his partners. They bought it for $1.6 million and are marketing it with a $28 million asking price.

But he believes this downtrodden town stands to gain even more. Like many small cities built on industry, Clinton has been hit hard by a culling of manufacturing jobs. Its miseries remind him of those that battered his home town of Coos Bay, where he grew up the younger of two brothers, raised by divorced parents: his father, a mailman, and his mother, a teacher.

Read more: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/05/an_oregon_lawmakers_strange_cr.html

Cross-posted in the Iowa Group.

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