Some good economic news today.
Citing improving markets for rotary hardwood veneer in North America, Gary Gillespie, Vice President of Columbia Forest Products’ Northern Operations, announced this week that Columbia is in the intermediate stages of preparing for a reopening the company's plant in Rutherglen.
The facility was shut down back in 2010.
Officials say the facility was a victim of economic downturn and the dramatic increase of imports of birch-faced panels from China into the United States and Canada.
"We have been anxiously awaiting the moment when we could announce that it was time to fire up the boilers and bring folks back to work at the Rutherglen facility,” stated Gillespie in a release.
"Today, we have confidence that we are entering a time when we will continue to experience strengthening markets for Rutherglen's products. At the same time, we’re counting on significant support from local and provincial government officials as we work with them to secure long-term log supplies for the plant and assistance for training new employees at the facility,” Gillespie added.
The addition of the Rutherglen production output will bolster Columbia’s position as the leading supplier of rotary-peeled birch, maple and red oak hardwood veneer to the hardwood plywood stock panel business in North America.
Columbia is investing approximately $1.5 million U.S. with the facility in preparation of a late First Quarter 2016 restart. This investment in Ontario comes on the heels of a $15 million investment in their hardwood plywood plant in Hearst, Ontario earlier this year.
"Although it took longer than we had anticipated, we never gave up on the idea of reestablishing ourselves as a going concern in Rutherglen. We are very high on Ontario, its hardwood resources and, most importantly, its smart, hard-working people,” Gillespie noted.
Jeff McGirr, Director of Economic Development Mattawa Bonfield Economic Development Corporation, says this will be a huge boost to the region.
“The Columbia Forest Products Rutherglen Veneer facility is a major component in our region’s Economic Development Strategy," he said in an email to BayToday.ca.
"This strategy is supported by the communities of Bonfield, Calvin, Mattawa, Mattawan, Papineau-Cameron as well as our Member of Parliament and Member of Provincial Parliament through our Group of Seven Team.
"As the facility is detailed within our strategy as significant employment asset and key contributor to future economic prosperity and sustainability our team fully supports and commits to do everything within our resources to facilitate the CFP Rutherglen re-opening and long term sustainability. The MBEDC Board of Directors has passed a resolution and delivered a letter of commitment and support detailing that Columbia Forest Products has the regions full support. “
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli was thrilled to hear the good news.
“The community is so proud of Columbia Forest Products and the confidence they have in the Mattawa area," said Fedeli in an email to BayToday.ca.
"On my tour through there last year it was obvious they kept the site in perfect order -- that was a real sign they wanted to return here and re-open. This is great news for a beleaguered industry and a region that needs employment opportunities.”
At its peak, the mill employed more than 300 and was a very significant economic contributor to the Mattawa region.