An Entrepreneur, Stimulus Money, And An Idaho Mill Town That Wants To Rise Again

Jun 21, 2012

Stories about mill towns tend to go something like this: generations of families work at the local sawmill.  Then, the mill shuts down, taking hundreds of jobs with it.  Emmett, Idaho is one of those towns.  Boise Cascade closed its mill here in 2001.  But that’s not where this story ends.  Instead, it picks up with a Montana entrepreneur and millions in stimulus funding.

The expanse of ground where Boise Cascade used to operate is quiet and overgrown.  Buildings are boarded up.  A pair of quail struts across an open lot.  But on one corner of the property, there’s activity again.

There, Dick Vinson admires a massive machine called a debarker.  It’s one of the first machines logs encounter on their way through this new sawmill.  “Look at that thing working!” he exclaims.  “There’s a ring spinning around inside there.  It has six arms on it and it takes the bark off.”

Vinson is the mill’s primary owner.  Click here to continue reading...