Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The news broke this week that Roseburg Forest Products in Missoula has been slated to close in May, putting nearly 150 people out of work. This news combined with the recent closure of Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake has western Montana deeply concerned about the forest based economy of the region.

On Thursday’s KGVO Chamber of Commerce program, I was joined by Chamber CEO Mark Losh and Jeff Smith, Vice President of Community Development and Principal Engineer at WGM Group, both of whom weighed in on the Roseburg closure.

Smith acknowledged the shock of having a long time Missoula business be shuttered, however, he said the overall economic picture for Missoula is very healthy.

The Chamber of Commerce Program on Roseburg Closure

“The loss of a job center certainly hurts, but our community and our economy is very diverse,” began Smith. “Think about Missoula as a regional hub for healthcare and for retail. We have a very strong construction job base and workforce here. On the job growth side, we've added 1,000 jobs a year on average for the last 10 years which is notable. I think, at the same time, particularly over the last four years, our median household income has grown as well.”

Losh acknowledged the trend in construction and manufacturing towards modernization.

READ MORE: 150 Lose Missoula Jobs as Composite Mill Announces Closure

Sometimes it Costs More to Upgrade an Older Plant so it Must be Closed

“Technology is changing how we do everything, and when you have a mill that old or any industry that old, sometimes the technology is moving so fast that you can't afford to do all the upgrades. I don't have specific information here, but it's consistently happening all over United States of different industries that are advancing so fast that the old facility costs more to upgrade than it does to get something new.”

Losh went on the say that the community is already rallying around the soon-to-be-displaced workers at Roseburg.

The Chamber and Missoula College are Reaching out to Displaced Workers

“With 150 people no longer employed there'll be a section that will say ‘you know what? I was so close to retirement, so I'm just going to retire,” he said. “There's also a section that because of the kind of work they do is going to transfer into other jobs. There may also be some retraining opportunities here, and God bless the Missoula College. There's a great opportunity to go over there and do some certificate training and some work in educating in a different field, a different area. There might be employers who are willing to help you with that.”

You can hear the entire Chamber of Commerce program by clicking here.

Tough Year: Missoula Businesses That Closed in 2023

For a whole host of reasons, Missoula lost multiple businesses in 2023. Here's a look back at the businesses that closed.

Gallery Credit: Ashley

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