Emerald Forest Products grinds to a halt

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by KTVB.COM

NWCN.com

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 12:07 PM

EMMETT -- The Emerald Forest Products company located in downtown Emmett closed its doors on Friday, Feb. 15.

Owner Dick Vinson told KTVB his company didn't have a good business model, and the mill wasn't profitable. He also said the business didn't have enough capital.

The closure is at least the second in two years for the lumber mill, which also curtailed operations in June of 2011. It last reopened in June of 2012.

Vinson says they even received $4 million from the federal stimulus plan a few years ago.

Many who live in Emmett tell us it's been hard seeing the mill open and close over and over again.

"I was kind of surprised but in my gut I knew it was coming," says Vickie Leary. "It's been around for so long, the mill, a lot of people have worked there in the past, so it's always sad to see a long-time business close." 

Vinson said contrary to other reports, his 50 employees are being paid for time worked up until the closure. Vinson says he hopes the employees can someday be rehired.

According to a 2010 report by the Idaho Department of Commerce, Emerald Forest Products specializes in 2'x4' and 4'x4' boards, shavings used for animal bedding, and cutting large trees.

Vinson says other business are scheduled to view and potentially offer bids on the mill.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little tells us the closure is heartbreaking. He says it has been an emotional roller coaster for the people who live and work in Emmett. "It's pretty hard to plan when you've got that up and down compared to the old solid Boise Cascade mill we had there that went for years and years and built a lot of great careers and a lot of families," said Little.

Little says the state will do everything they can to support a new company purchasing the mill. He says the future of the plant will determine whether the $4 million from the federal government was well spent. "If somebody gets it up and gets it going, it won't be a total waste. If it closes down, yeah, it will be a tragedy, a terrible waste of taxpayer money and a failed effort," said Little.

Little also said the company has had troubles from the beginning since their equipment came from several different operations, and they had a hard time getting it to work properly.

Emerald Forest Products has been in development since 2002. The company was funded through a combination of private and public contributions, including a 2009 $4 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.

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