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Atikokan entrepreneurs upbeat over Resolute's new Sapawe sawmill

Business owners in Atikokan say they are feeling optimistic over news that Resolute Forest Products plans to open its new sawmill in nearby Sapawe
Ken Stonehouse, owner of Atikokan's Castle Building Centre, says the new Resolute sawmill in nearby Sepawe will give younger workers "something to go to, instead of going out of town." (Jeff Walters/CBC)
Many people in Atikokan say they're excited for the opening of a new sawmill near the community. The CBC's Jeff Walters visited Atikokan and talks about the renewed sense of optimism in the town. 7:25
Business owners in Atikokan say they are feeling optimistic over news that Resolute Forest Products plans to open its new sawmill in nearby Sapawe. 

Ken Stonehouse, who runs a hardware store and lumber yard, said the opening of the Resolute mill should result in more construction in the area.

"Anytime you see upbeat on things like this, you see us owning a hardware/lumber store, you see people now starting to spend money on their houses and everything else,” said the owner of Castle Building Centre.

The community needs new industry to keep it sustainable Stonehouse added.

I think it'll mean a big deal to this community.-  Donna Hobbs, Picture This Home Decor, Atikokan

“It's job creation. The town of Atikokan has gone through a lot of economic hard times in the last 10 to 15 years."

A little further down Main Street, Donna Hobbs at Picture This Home Decor said she hopes the sawmill jobs translate into sales at her furniture store.

"I think the feeling around town is ecstatic,” she said.

“Because we really need some more industry in this town, to keep the businesses here, to keep the young folk here and that kind of thing," Hobbs added.

In recent years many young families have been forced to find work in other communities, Hobbs said.

"I think it'll mean a big deal to this community. It's going to keep the money in the community ... [and] keep the rest of us going."

Stonehouse echoed Hobbs view.

"A lot of the workforce has gone out of town because there [are] no jobs,” he said.

“Especially for [the] young ones ... they'll have something to go to, instead of going out of town.”

The wider community will benefit too, Hobbs noted.

"The seniors want their young people to stay in the community, because they have children and they want their grandchildren here.”

Resolute says it is making a $50 million investment in the Sapawe mill, and says it should employ about 90 people.

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