PORT ANGELES, WA – On Saturday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) toured Port Angeles Hardwood’s new alder mill, which created nearly 100 new, family-wage jobs when it opened in May. Over the past two years, Cantwell worked with Washington Alder, Port Angeles Hardwood, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to secure a $15 million guaranteed loan. Cantwell announced the finalization of the loan during the tour Saturday.

“This new mill represents real growth and great opportunity for our workers and businesses here in Clallam County,” said Cantwell a member of the Senate Commerce and Small Business Committees. “Right here in Port Angeles, we’re breaking ground as innovators in the milling industry. This facility now serves as a model for other communities to follow, bringing good jobs and setting a new standard in efficiency.”

“Without this type of rock-solid guaranteed loan, the Port Angeles Hardwood project wouldn’t be the extraordinary success it is today,” added Cantwell. “The real work is here on the ground in Port Angeles, but I was proud to stand behind this application.”

The mill now employs 100 workers in Clallam County at an average salary of $62,000. Because the mill is close to where the alder trees are grown, the revenue generated from the production of furniture-grade lumber is kept in the community, adding an estimated $28 million a year to the local economy. The facility is also expected to create an additional 200 mill-related jobs with trucking and transportation companies, timber owners, loggers, machine shops, and suppliers.

Port Angeles Hardwood first purchased land in Port Angeles for the new mill in November 2004, breaking ground in May 2005. With Cantwell’s help, including calls to USDA officials and a letter sent in April 2005, the company then obtained a $15 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan to help finance the mill. The loan was finalized on June 9, 2006. This state-of-the-art facility uses computerized equipment and trained staff to maximize the amount of usable lumber produced from each log, and incorporates a number of features designed to minimize dust, noise, and pollutants. The facility uses its wood waste to run an onsite boiler that powers the lumber dry kilns. Excess sawdust is also sold to other energy producers or for use as soil additives.

The USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program helps finance projects that will improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities with populations of less than 50,000. Guaranteed loans make it easier for the rural business or individual to obtain capital and borrow at lower interest rates than they would otherwise be able to.

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