The White Mountain Apache Tribe in Whiteriver, Arizona is utilizing New Market Tax Credits to re-open a defunct lumber processing facility within the tribe. The saw mill, once one of the tribe’s biggest employers, closed in 2010, resulting in a significant loss of revenue and employment for the tribe. Last year the tribe engaged two of the timber industry’s top consultants to revamp the business plan for the processing facility. Now with access to funds needed for equipment upgrades, purchases, installation, and working capital, the tribe will reopen the mill and begin hiring for new positions immediately.
The White Mountain Apache Tribe raised the funds necessary to reopen the facility using NMTCs allocated by Rural Development Partners and Coastal Enterprises, which generated U.S. Bank’s $13.4 million investment. The commitment provides critical gap funding for the $42.5 million project.
Median family income on the reservation is half the rate of Arizona as a whole. The poverty rate is 44 percent and unemployment is three times the national average.
The project will also help to improve forest health. Since the lumber processing facility closed in 2010, there has been minimal timber cutting on tribal land. Responsible timber harvesting will result in the restoration of fire damaged forests and the thinning of overcrowded forests. Both of these efforts result in higher productivity, habitat enhancement, reduced insect infestation, and decreased fire risk.