Neiman Enterprises is closing its Rushmore Forest Products Sawmill in Hill City after 53 years, eliminating 120 jobs and 12 contract crews. Company President Jim Neiman says the plan is to close in about 2 months. The mill is one of the biggest employers in Hill City.
Neiman puts the blame squarely on the U-S Forest Service for cutting timber sales in the Black Hills to the point there’s no longer enough timber available for purchase to keep the sawmill viable. The company gets 80% of its timber from the agency.
He says he never thought he would see the day when they would be out of options to keep all its facilities running, an especially not now with all-time record highs on the lumber markets for the past year.
Hill City mayor Kathy Skorzewski says news of the mill closure has been met locally with “shock and sadness,” adding that it will have an obvious financial impact both on the families losing jobs and the local economy.
Skorzewski says there’s also a long-term emotional impact because “the mill represented a way of life unique to the Black Hills, a piece of history that tells our story.”
The mayor says residents will be there for each other, calling it the Hill City family and promising the city will look for creative ways to support those directly impacted by the closure including helping them find new jobs.
Governor Kristi Noem says federal mismanagement of the Black Hills National Forest threatens the health of the Black Hills communities that rely its resources, and she promises to keep working with the state’s Congressional Delegation on the issue.