Olympic Panel to close

SHELTON – Olympic Panel Products is preparing to shut down its operations beginning in July, leaving more than 200 employees jobless.

“They are going to start closing July 22,” said Lynn Longan, Mason County Economic Development Council executive director. “It will be over three or four weeks.”

Longan said the specialty plywood siding manufacturer’s intent to close has been known for more than a year.

The closure comes after Simpson Lumber closed its Shelton waterfront mill in April 2015, leaving about 270 employees jobless.

Longan said the EDC is prepared to assist out-of-work employees through the “Workforce Transition Center” originally set up for laid-off Simpson employees.

The transition center provides a haven for workers to seek other jobs.

“It’s kind of a support group as well,” Longan said.

The EDC is working with Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council  and WorkSource to assist unemployed workers, she said.

The region’s congressional representatives have also sent staff to assist laid off workers, she said.

The state Department of Commerce, the governor’s office and Olympic College are also involved, according to Longan.

The news came Wednesday when the state Employment Security Department issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice concerning loss of  jobs and the closure for Olympic Panel.

Sierra Pacific, meanwhile, is building a new state-of-the-are sawmill and lumber planing operation on the Shelton waterfront site that will employee about 200.

(5) comments

Clarence Wells

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Joelland

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Jason Tuscan

So sad for Shelton and the waterfront. Ah well, at least housing in Shelton will remain affordable with the waterfront buried by heavy industry.

Tom Davis

So, let’s look at the numbers stated: The closing of Olympic Panel will mean we lose 270 jobs and the opening of SPI means we gain 200 jobs, a net loss of 70 jobs. Now let’s look at the fine print: While the loss of 270 jobs is a certainty, the gain of 200 local jobs is unlikely, as SPI will most certainly bring with them a core of current employees.

Moreover, what is missing in this sad tale is that Shelton has lost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rezone and develop what is arguably the most valuable piece of waterfront real estate in Mason County to commercial/residential, thereby driving the final nail into its economic coffin.

Tom Hyde

Couldn't agree more. Could have been a great opportunity for downtown Shelton core. And I've never received a good answer from anyone as to why the industrial area along Johns Prairie (including Simpson property there) wasn't appropriate for a new sawmill. I've heard third hand that access to natural gas was an issue but really don't know. Perhaps what's more unfortunate is the lack of discussion from city/county leadership on this. The opportunity for downtown redevelopment seemed obvious, and funding would likely have been available from multiple sources (including Brownfield grants). But there seemed little to no interest, at least publicly, for moving heavy industry out of downtown. With its proximity to Olympia, where the housing and rent markets continue to climb higher and become increasingly unaffordable for many, a reenvisioned Shelton with its attractive main street extending to the waterfront, could have positioned itself well for the future while also welcoming Sierra Pacific to the area, just up the hill a bit. Seems like it could have been a big opportunity for Simpson as well. We'll never know what was said behind closed doors with local leaders, or by local leaders, but I really wonder if downtown redevelopment was ever even discussed or considered. Disappointing.

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