Leaders seek to expose community to timber industry, potential jobsSubmitted: 08/06/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Leaders seek to expose community to timber industry, potential jobs
RHINELANDER - More than 64,000 people in Wisconsin work in the forest products industry, which accounts for $1.4 billion in exports.

But many peoples' view of the industry remains stuck in the past.

"These folks are out there with their flannel and their chainsaw," said Crystal Rohde with the Wood Industry Collaborative.

Rohde sees it as her job to shift that perception.

"As a collaborative, a big part of what we're trying to do is change that, to really get the younger generation aware of the job opportunities," she said.

Rohde helped organize Monday's timber tour in the Rhinelander area. It included a visit to an active logging site in the Elcho area, where machines cleared downfall from storms. The group then continued to the paper mill in Rhinelander and Ponsse's North American headquarters.

"I think we also just struggle to retain and attract folks to Wisconsin, in general, but also to rural Wisconsin," said Caleb Frostman, the Secretary-designee of the state Department of Workforce Development. "We're trying to continue to market the viability of these jobs, these industries."

Leaders like Rohde see the mission as crucial in a state covered by 17 million acres of forest land.

"Any help that we can provide to this industry, it's our job to do that, to help that, moving forward," she said.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin will be in Rhinelander on Tuesday to discuss the importance of Wisconsin's timber economy.

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