On Tuesday, October 18th, students from Ponderosa High School visited the Bellemont facilities of IML Containers and NewLife Forest Products. Ponderosa High School is a non-traditional, nationally accredited educational environment whose mission is to prepare and motivate students to pursue entry into the world of work, professional programs, or educational opportunities.
Students first arrived at IML’s Bellemont location. Built in 2016, IML is a branch of a French based global company the Lacroix group. IML’s state-of-the-art facility uses injecting and thermoforming processes to produce plastic food containers, shipping them throughout the world via the adjacent BNSF rail line. Students were given an in-depth look at IML’s sparkling facility and given demonstrations such as when a freight worker demonstrated the plant’s incredible high-rise fork lift which is able to access and deposit freight from forty feet up. Several IML employees shared their experiences working for IML, conveying positive experiences and the benefits of working for a company that offers stability and the ability for career growth.
Just down the road from IML is NewLife Forest Products. NewLife uses innovative techniques to harvest and mill low-grade, small diameter trees in contract with the US Forest Service Four Forest Initiative. The program aims to thin critical areas of forest that pose the greatest risk of fire. To meet these labor and capital intensive goals the Forest Service partners with commercial entities to address regional concerns. NewLife recently purchased their 425,000 square foot facility in Bellemont which is the largest high-capacity sawmill in the state. When we visited the facility, NewLife was in the finishing stages of installing new machinery that would allow the plant to complete all the processes of taking in raw lumber and turning out a finished product. In stride with their expansion, NewLife will eventually employ 200 workers in their Bellemont facility, creating a boon of job opportunities for the area.
In a region that is challenged with offering young workers good paying, benefitted jobs that allow the chance to grow within positions, our manufacturing sector offers the potential to both retain skilled workers and to create opportunities for those transitioning from educational settings.