Boise Layoffs to Have Huge Impact on International Falls Community

By KBJR News 1

May 6, 2013 Updated May 6, 2013 at 7:51 PM CDT

International Falls, MN (NNCNOW.com) - When Boise Paper announced that it would be shutting down two of its four paper machines and laying off nearly 300 people, there was no doubt that the effects would be far reaching.

"It will be not just a ripple effect, but it will be more or less a waterfall effect," said Chamber of Commerce Chair, Leif Larsen.

Larson says that while Boise Paper will help those laid off to find another job within the company, it will be difficult to find similar work in International Falls.

"I think It's going to be very difficult to find something comparable. As far as staying locally, I think the community leaders, the community as a whole, will have to get creative and focus much of our attention on job and economic growth," said Larsen.

The Superintendent of International Falls Public Schools says that the layoffs at Boise and the possibility that families will have to move to find work will directly affect the school.

"With the announcement of Boise, we need to plan on roughly a five percent reduction [in students]," Superintendent Nordy Nelson said.

Nelson says student enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year could be lowered by five-percent, which is about 50-55 of the school's 1,170 students, a loss that could cost the district an estimated $325,000 in state revenue.

"Those 50 students are spread across 12 different grades, so it's not a great amount that we can look at really any adjustments in staffing, programming things like this," said Nelson.

Nelson says that estimate could change when the company knows specifically who they're laying off.

Until then, employees wait to hear their fate, wait and continue to pull through.

"We're going to have to support each other, stick together and just always believe that there remains hope," said Larsen of the International Falls community.

Boise Paper officials say they'll start negotiations with unions on May 13th.

Jennifer Austin