Smurfit-Stone in Trouble?

by jhwygirl

NewWest’s Rob Struckman posted a piece this afternoon, based on some information that has come his way, that Smurfit-Stone is mulling some tough decisions. He’s spot-on with all of it – their woes over pulp have been widely known for some time.

Sincerely troubling news. Not only does Smurfit employ well over 400 employees, it’s a fantastic community citizen. A huge tax base. If they close, the reverberations will be felt much further than Missoula alone.

Reuter’s has this story on its consecutive quarterly losses.

Struckman’s piece reports that Dick King of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corporation is working hard to try and keep Smurfit-Stone up and running.

Let’s hope that Dick King has some help – everyone from the Mayor and our Board of County Commissioners, to the Governor and his base of economic funding, to Representative Rehberg, to Senators Baucus and Tester…..230 good paying, family-raising, community-benefiting jobs is too much for any Montana city to loose – let alone the state.

If the Governor and the Department of Commerce can find $400,000 for Deerlodge’s Sun Mountain Lumber, surely they can find a solution for Smurfit-Stone.

If the USFS can put together over $600,000 in community grants based on slash, sawdust and small-diameter timber thinning projects, surely they can do something here.

Fact is – any solution must involve local communities and the USFS. The USFS is the only property owner with large enough holdings to sustain this industry. But communities, too, have to work together to realize that bug kill isn’t going to go away, and thinning projects will, in the long run, reduce fire danger to Montana’s sprawling communities. Forestry practices can be sustainable – and the key is to involve the communities and natural resource advocates up front. There are solutions.

And industry is the key word here folks. Unless we Montanans are content to survive on Burger King and hotel jobs, we need to have industry jobs. Tech would be nice, and so would medical – but until our universities start focusing on those types of jobs and drawing those industries to the state, we gotta work to keep what industry we have. Otherwise, huge tax bases are going to be gone, and the burden will be shouldered more and more on individual taxpayers.

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