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Columbia Falls Plant Closing

by Staff
Tri-City Herald, December 24, 2008

One of the biggest employers in the Flathead Valley is planning to shut its doors.

We talked with company officials about the announced layoffs at Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, which came so close to Christmas.

Columbia Falls and the Flathead Valley were hit hard Tuesday with the news that about 200 jobs will be lost.

The nearly 55-year-old, Columbia Falls-based company, has been hurting from a market that has a huge supply of metals and very little demand. The result has been the price of aluminum at a near 25 year low, yet the prices for their raw materials remain high.

A company official told us the final straw in their decision came with a court ruling against Bonneville Power last week that would raise CFAC's electrical bills significantly.

Manager of External Affairs Haley Beaudry said that they couldn't have done anything to prevent the decision.

"For the employees out here who have turned this plant into what is possibly the most efficient plant of it's kind in the world, and forces beyond all of our control have brought about this situation. For them, it's very disheartening, especially getting word the day before Christmas Eve."

CFAC officials said they regret having to give the news so close to the holidays, but they are continuing to monitor market conditions and will do anything they can to make sure this is not a permanent closure.

The CEO and President of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Joe Unterreiner issued a statement in response to Tuesday's announcement.

"The Kalispell Chamber intends to concentrate our efforts in the coming year to improve the business climate, control taxes and promote property rights. Our goal is to continue to provide the economic leadership that will help our businesses emerge from this downturn stronger than ever."

(from December 23, 2008)

A major employer in the Flathead Valley will be shutting their doors in 60 days.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced to their workers Tuesday they would be shutting down operations in two months.

The Columbia Falls-based plant employs 200 workers, all of whom received notice on Tuesday that they are being laid off.

External Affairs Manager Haley Beaudry said they are closing down due to the current marketplace and a legal situation.

Beaudry added that metal prices have been on a slide and that there is also an oversupply of metals in the worldwide and domestic markets.

Meanwhile, Beaudry said that a court ruling last week by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court also hurt them. The court ruled against Bonneville Power Administration which will mean uncertainty and an increase in the price of power for Columbia Falls Aluminum Company.

Back in July, Columbia Falls Aluminum Company laid off about 160 workers, and in 2003 officials announced the company was cutting two thirds of its production because of a weak market.

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company has been operating in the Flathead for more than 50 years.

Columbia Falls Plant Closing
Tri-City Herald, December 24, 2008

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