Oregon’s Rough & Ready Lumber Co. will reopen nearly a year after it closed, adding back dozens of jobs to a pocket of rural Oregon where one in 10 are out of work.
The restart of Rough & Ready Lumber will cost taxpayers $5 million, as part of a deal announced Friday by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Local officials say the economic impact of a buzzing Cave Junction mill will spread throughout the Illinois Valley.
If all goes as planned, the small-log mill will be retooled and running by July. Its owners say they are confident that they can maintain a single shift, and put 67 people to work running the mill.
“Sixty-five jobs, that’s big news,” said Cave Junction Mayor Carl Jacobson. “It was really heartbreaking when they had to close down.”
Rough & Ready was the last sawmill operating in Josephine County, putting a psychological and economic capstone on the decades-long decline of Oregon’s timber industry. The industry employed 25,400 people statewide in 2012, half as many as in 1992. By April 2013, the third-generation family business could hold out no longer. Co-owners Link and Jennifer Phillippi said supply, not demand, delivered the final blow.