www.ourtownlive.com By Kristine Thomas
Teamwork between the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, SEDCOR (Strategic Economic Development Corp.) and Project Delivery Group has resulted in a new business locating in Silverton.
Forest River Inc., has purchased the former Champion Homes site at 1240 Mill St., said Gerald Fisher, the senior project manager for Project Delivery Group in Salem. Silverton will be the sixth site in Oregon for Forest River Inc., headquartered in Indiana. One of the leading manufacturers of recreational vehicles, pontoon boats and trailers, Forest River also has a plant in Independence, Fisher said. To meet increasing demand Forest River is adding the Silverton location, where it will make utility trailers used by landscapers, contractors and others.
"The addition of this business and the jobs they will bring to the community has been something that has long been missing from the industrial park," Fisher said. Fisher appreciates the work done by Silverton Chamber Executive Director Stacy Palmer and SEDCOR Business Retention and Extension Manager Nick Harville to welcome Forest River to Silverton. Fisher said Harville spent a great deal of time to find the right match for the facility that has been vacant since 2008.
Harville has worked with Forest River in two other communities. He said it is a great neighbor in those communities, as he feels sure it will be in Silverton. "And here, in Silverton, I am one of their nearby neighbors. I have enjoyed working with management on this project. These things move slowly and this took months," Harville said. "And with the property having been empty for so many years and beginning to fall into disrepair, I am glad an outstanding company like Forest River is acquiring it and breathing new life and vitality into the facility."
Palmer said the chamber feels fortunate to have a business like Forest River move to Silverton, especially since it has a great history and an amazing product. "It's a blessing to have the former Champion Homes site finally occupied and especially nice to have it filled by a business with a manufacturing focus, much like its previous tenant. The added jobs for the community are really icing on the top of the cake," Palmer said. "Businesses are the lifeblood of a small community's economy.”
Fisher said from now until January Forest River will be improving the appearance of the property and making necessary repairs. Because the company is doing essentially the same thing as the former occupant, Fisher said it wasn't necessary for the company to go before the Silverton Planning Commission or City Council. "All Forest River needs to do with the city is to get a business license," he said. Fisher compared Harville to a matchmaker — he knew what Forest River General Manager Josh Parker was looking for and knew Silverton could supply it. His role, Fisher said, is to facilitate and make sure all the details are met so the company can move in.
Parker said increased demand for utility trailers is the reason for the expansion. He plans to hire 20 people initially and be up to 60 employees by February. Fisher said the company has the ability to increase its staff to 190 employees. "We feel like Silverton is a thriving community. We are here to help put people to work and we are excited about joining the community," Parker said.
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