Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was at the Forestry Building on the University of Montana campus on Friday to sign a bill enabling the partial state financing of the new $45 million  W.A. Franke School of Forestry and Conservation.

Gianforte began by emphasizing the importance of forestry and wood products to Montana’s economy.

“With the economy in forestry alone there are more than 7,000 Montanans working in the private sector forestry industry,” said Gianforte. “Together they generate more than $600 million in primary sales and $350 million in wages, and 97 percent of the forestry college graduates are immediately employed after graduation, or go to graduate school which is a tremendous outcome.”

Gianforte then made the announcement about the new forestry school building.

“The building we're in today has served generations of students, but you've outgrown your space, and that's why, with the help of the legislators such as Representative Hopkins and Cuffe, we have House Bill 14, which I'm going to sign here today,” he said. “It includes funding for a new made in Montana building for the College of Forestry and Conservation. It will be constructed with cross laminated timber, and other wood products grown, harvested and manufactured right here in Montana.”

Gianforte then asked UM President Seth Bodnar to say a few words to the media present at the bill signing ceremony.

“Thank you, Governor Gianforte,” said President Bodnar. “Thanks everyone for being here. This is an exciting day for the University of Montana, and I think an exciting day for the entire state. You know, our College of Forestry and Conservation is really a crown jewel of the Montana university system. This is a world renowned college with incredible expertise in producing students that have an immediate and lasting impact on Montana's economy.”

Also speaking was State Senator Mike Cuffe who spoke of his years of experience in the wood products industry.

“I spent much of my career making plywood and lumber and sawdust and chips and cheerleading on the product that's going to be used to build this new building, cross laminated timber, CLT,” said Cuffe. “Many folks don't know, but the very first CLT manufacturing business is up at Columbia Falls, Montana, and they've expanded into a nationwide organization.”

Gianforte then officially signed House Bill 14, which approved a request for $25 million in bonds and also provided approval for the school to raise another $20 million to complete the project.

According to UM spokesman Dave Kuntz, The forestry school boasts one of the fast growing colleges within the University of Montana.

Also present at the ceremony was the Commissioner of Higher Education for Montana, Clayton Christian.

 

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