Stimson Lumber Company announced Friday that it is cutting 60 jobs at its Forest Grove location. That’s about 40% of the mill’s workforce.
CEO Andrew Miller attributes the job losses to a changing business environment in Oregon, specifically rising costs of operation.
“It’s an overall, what I would call, regulatory and tax creep,” he said, “and it’s been underway for many years.”
He said specifically environmental permit fees and Oregon’s Clean Fuels Tax have driven up the cost of business.
“The policies in Salem are defined by an urban electorate — I’m not going to change that. I just see it and accept it and have to make decisions accordingly,” Miller said. “We’re doing our best to try and figure out how we can stay competitive in Oregon, but it is becoming more and more difficult.”
Miller said he’s also feeling pressure from pending cap and trade legislation.
“I think the cap and trade will be another cost element that will be born disproportionately by rural businesses and rural communities,” he said. “These are not all big cost items in themselves, but they just stack up.”
Miller said Stimson Lumber will shift operations to states like Idaho and Montana where he says the cost to produce lumber products is 5% to 7% less than in Oregon.
“I don’t see Oregon’s political leadership having the courage to address their spending habits in general, PERS in particular. Fees go up. Taxes go up. New taxes are implemented, and I believe that tax ratchet will just continue.”
In Oregon, Stimson Lumber also operates in Tillamook and Clatskanie. Layoffs are not happening at those locations.
According to a news release, the layoff amount at the Forest Grove mill constitutes about 20% of the company’s overall employment in Oregon.
Miller said the workers losing their jobs will be given “good severance packages relative to their time of service.”