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Preparations to reopen the plywood mill in Omak are well underway, with more than 40 workers already hired and additional hiring anticipated soon.
The plant’s new operators, Omak Wood Products, have been proactively hiring to do the restoration work necessary to restart the mill after several years of inactivity. Approximately 40 workers have joined the company during July and have begun performing the necessary cleanup and maintenance work to begin producing veneer later this year.
The company expects to employ as many as 100 workers by the end of the year. At full production, the plant may employ as many as 200 people.
The company is also celebrating its first delivery of logs from the Colville Indian Tribes’ forest lands this week. The Tribes’ ability to provide timber is creating considerable additional local employment for loggers in the area.
“We are full steam ahead on preparing the mill to run again,” said Richard Yarbrough, President of Omak Wood Products. “We’re extremely pleased with the employees we've hired and the work they are doing to bring the mill back up. Our partnership with the Colville Confederated Tribes to deliver timber has also been excellent.”
The company has hired more than 40 people so far, a mix of laborers and specialized tradesmen necessary to restore the mill’s equipment, which has been idle since it closed in 2009. A majority of the workers are members of the Colville Confederated Tribes.
In addition, the company has invested nearly $1.5 million for employee wages, goods and services from the surrounding communities since the restoration work began in July, providing another boost to the local economy.
Earlier this year, Omak Wood Products signed a 25-year lease with Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, an enterprise of the Colville Confederated Tribes, to reopen the mill. The Colville Confederated Tribes has been involved in the timber business for more than 100 years and is a longstanding partner in helping drive the economy in Eastern Washington.
The mill will initially produce softwood veneer for Northwest markets, and is expected to begin producing Douglas fir plywood for specialty and commodity applications in 2014.