By Tom Callis and Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Josh Renshaw, president of the mill on Marine Drive, said the company furloughed its final 15 employees last week but that he has hopes for reopening.
Renshaw said the mill is working on “debt restructuring” but declined to elaborate.
“We’re in an uphill battle for sure,” he said.
Grant Munro, a PenPly owner and former City Council member, said the mill had been winding down production for the past month.
“There’s still hope,” he said, “and I’ll just leave it at that.
“We’re still trying some things.”
PenPly had employed 130 workers at its peak in July.
That came after the mill received a $500,000 state Department of Commerce grant to keep it afloat. The city of Port Angeles sponsored the grant.
As of last month, the mill owed the city nearly $300,000 in delinquent utility payments and $82,783 to the Port of Port Angeles for rent.
City Manager Kent Myers said he knew PenPly was struggling financially but had not received official notice of the shutdown as of early Wednesday afternoon.
“We met earlier this week with the bank and everyone, so we were aware of it,” he said.
Myers said the City Council will discuss “what our options are to collect that money” at the next City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.
The council discussion with City Attorney Bill Bloor will be in an executive session because efforts to collect the money could result in potential litigation, Myers said.
Renshaw, with the help of local investors, reopened the shuttered mill in March 2010.
Its former owners, Klukwan Inc., closed the mill in November 2007.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program allocated stimulus funds to provide a 90 percent guarantee for two loans in order to help the mill reopen.
The loans with Sound Community Bank and Enterprise Cascadia total $1.9 million.
Tuana Jones, the rural development’s state director of business and cooperative programs, said in June that the federal agency would cover 90 percent of the delinquent payments if the mill defaults on the loans.
Sound Community Bank, in a letter to the editor submitted Wednesday, said it took news of the closure with a “great deal of sadness.”
“We won’t let one failure discourage us from reviewing and partnering with a broad range of businesses in Port Angeles and Sequim,” the bank said.
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at email@example.com.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.