In the remotest part of Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom, furniture manufacturing, sawmills and paper companies, were once a reliable mainstay of employment. Now they have all left, decimated from competition overseas, Vermont Public Radio reports.
But the region is deeply entwined with the global economy. Its dense forests still grow valuable trees. And efforts to revive the forest-based economy are now focused on supplying wood for local and regional markets. VPR focuses in on Joel Currier of Danville, Vt., who makes a living from the woods. Currier's mill produces a variety of wood products, from tamarack flooring to red spruce boards destined for guitar tops. Currier's business is the exception in the battered Northeast Kingdom forest economy. He's found a solid niche with his long timbers and specialty woods, and he's reaching new markets with an on-line presence. "Most of the meat and potatoes of what we do is long timbers," he says. "A lot of the covered bridges in the state of Vermont actually have our timbers in them." Currier watches as sawmills and pulp mills have folded not just from overseas competition, but from high costs, as well as decreased demand because of the housing slump. While sawmills suffer and loggers struggle to survive, the region still supplies high-quality saw logs to mills across the border in Canada. "Here's one here, Manosh, that's no longer in business. It's pretty much been in the tank," Currier says of a mill that closed four years ago. "There's small, as I say, niche markets that are thriving. But in general it's not a good picture.
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