GREEN — To help North River Boats expand and create new jobs, Douglas County awarded the company a $100,000 grant of lottery funds through the Douglas County Industrial Development Board.
Brent Hutchings, CEO of the Green-based boat manufacturing company, said the grant will help the company in an upcoming expansion effort to add a second building and increase its manufacturing capacity.
“It will further strengthen the business by enabling us to build more boats for our customers and it will help the county by allowing us to continue to create additional living-wage jobs,” Hutchings said. The company needs to expand in order to meet the strong demand for its commercial, recreational and governmental vessels, Hutchings said.
Though the company has already been training its employees, the new building will provide a dedicated bay where new employees can learn how to build boats for the first 90 days without the pressure of being in the main production environment.
The new 33,750-square-foot building will be on the southeastern portion of the company’s property and will be in addition to the two existing structures, totaling 88,000 square feet, at 1750 SW Green Siding Road.
“If we continue to grow at the pace we’ve been growing, by adding this much space we will have the capacity to continue to grow for another seven to eight years,” Hutchings said.
Construction of the new building is expected to begin in late June and be completed by the end of November and is expected to cost around $2.5 million.
The $100,000 grant is meant to help support employers as they create new living wage jobs in Douglas County.
“We’re grateful to the community, and we love manufacturing in Douglas County,” Hutchings said. “I give a shoutout to our wonderful employees without whom this expansion would not be possible.”
Wayne Patterson, the executive director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership who helped the company navigate the grant application process, said he’s excited about the opportunity to support North River Boats, which he called one of the fastest-growing businesses in Douglas County.
“We’ve worked with Brent over the last two years on a variety of different projects and Brent has been discussing with the partnership his needs to expand,” Patterson said. The partnership helped Hutchings develop a proposal to present to the Industrial Development Board, which made a recommendation to the county's board of commissioners to award the grant. Both Hutchings and Patterson answered questions from the Douglas County commissioners following the presentation, and the commissioners decided to award the grant.
The grant money comes from Oregon Lottery funds, not the county's general fund.
Patterson said North River Boats is one of the only employee-owned companies in the county.
Employees at North River Boats in Green have suddenly become owners of the company.
Last April, Hutchings announced an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for eligible employees to own 33 percent of the company. The plan was retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016, and as of April, more than 100 of the company’s 131 employees already qualified to participate in the program.
“As an employee-owned company, we want to continue to grow indefinitely into the future so that we can maximize the value of the company to the employees,” Hutchings said.
A condition of the grant is that North River Boats must add at least 20 jobs in the first 18 months after receiving it. Hutchings said the expansion will come with about 30 to 35 new jobs throughout the company’s different departments, which are welding, painting and outfitting.