Rogue River Plywood Plant Adds a Shift Thanks to IDB Financing

The Murphy Company's 2010 purchase of a previously shuttered plywood plant in Rogue River continued to pay dividends for the once depressed community in 2013 when industrial revenue bond financing from Business Oregon helped the company add 65 more jobs by 2016.

In late 2013, Business Oregon issued a $10 million industrial revenue bond to the company helping it purchase and house a new dryer at its White City facility. The equipment will produce dry veneer for the Rogue River Plywood Plant and result in the addition there of a new shift and 65 full-time jobs in three years.

The reopened Rogue River mill closed in early 2009 and Murphy purchased it in 2010 for $3.6 million. The reopened plant is operating with one shift, and the company hopes to increase production to three shifts with 150 to 200 employees, Murphy Company President and co-owner John Murphy told the Medford Mail-Tribune.

"Everybody's thrilled to death," said Sandy Henderson, a 75-year-old resident of nearby Wimer, told local reporters at the time of the 2010 purchase and reopening. "There are people who'd been laid off who are (now) back to work. It couldn't happen at a better time of the year."

"It's exciting to be in these rural communities when they need it so bad," Murphy told reporters.

The mill will complement Murphy's other operations. A hardwood plywood plant in Eugene and a structural beam and header plant in Sutherlin use some of the best raw materials. The remaining materials and lower-grade veneers can now be sent to Rogue River.

In 2010, Business Oregon approved a $250,000 forgivable loan from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF) to assist Murphy with this multi-million dollar investment in new equipment at the refurbished Rogue River plant. In addition, in April, 2011, Business Oregon provided a $6 million industrial development financing for the project.

The new operation is a perfect fit for the company as it will allow it to revive its softwood plywood product line it lost in the 2005 Sutherlin mill fire. Business Oregon also stepped up as a partner as the company rose from the ashes to rebuild the Sutherlin facility. Within a few days, Business Oregon had reached out to the company to offer aid in rebuilding. A $100,000 SRF loan by Business Oregon helped with development costs of a replacement plant in Sutherlin, including wetlands mitigation and relocation of a rail spur.

The company rebuilt a $52 million, 200,000-square-foot plant, which restarted production in January 2008, and then added a second shift the following month creating additional jobs. The revitalization team also helped speed up required permits for wetlands and air emissions. In addition, local governments agreed to give Murphy a 15-year property tax exemption, in exchange for the company making $150,000 annual payments for 10 years to the city of Sutherlin for community development projects.