Gem Forest Products LLC announced plans Thursday to hire 40 to 50 workers when it reopens the former Emerald Forest Products mill. Charles Nash, operations forester, said it will begin hiring when it begins yardwork mid-May and will build its workforce before its target reopening date in late June.
The new sawmill owner is a subsidiary of biofuel company Greenfuels Energy LLC, based in Birmingham, Ala. The subsidiary was created to buy and operate the mill.
Gem Forest Products bought the foreclosed sawmill for an undisclosed price.
The sale was first reported by the Emmett Messenger Index.
The property once held a part of a larger sawmill operated by Boise Cascade Co. which shut down the operation in 2001, leading hundreds of former employees to leave Emmett to seek work elsewhere. The current sawmill was built in 2009 by Dick Vinson, a Montana timber entrepreneur and owner of Emerald Forest Products. The mill cost $4 million in federal stimulus money and at least $7 million of Vinson's own money. The mill operated in brief stints in 2010 and 2012 but never operated efficiently enough to be viable because the equipment was mismatched, Vinson said. Employment peaked at 47 during the sawmill's short runs under Vinson.
Gem Forest Products announced it will "refurbish" existing equipment and invest in new equipment. The company provide no additional details about the plan or its cost.
Emerald Forest Products owed $1.9 million to Northwest Bank, which foreclosed on the property, leading to the trustee sale on Monday.
Click here to read an Aug. 29 story from the Statesman about the sawmill's importance to Emmett's economy and about Vinson's last-ditch effort to save his project from foreclosure.