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Cabinet Maker Eyeballs Dallesport

Company could bring dozens of jobs to the area

By TOM PETERSON

Gorge News Report

A Portland cupboard manufacturer that currently employs 45 people is showing interest in relocating to the Dallesport Industrial Park, according to Dianne Sherwood, executive director of the Port of Klickitat County.

Huggy Bear's Cupboards Inc. is currently operating in the Jantzen Beach area of Portland but is also in negotiations with the port district to buy a little more than five acres near the south entrance to the industrial park that abuts Highway 197. The property has recently been graded.

Primary share holder and president of Huggy Bear's Cupboards Dwayne Hansen said the move to Dallesport is contingent upon selling the 65,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Jantzen Beach.

"We listed our building here two or three months ago," he said from his Portland Office Aug. 12. "We certainly would like to relocate to the Dallesport Industrial Park."

Hansen, who bought a home in Goldendale a year ago, said the real estate market in Portland is tough right now given the current economic downturn in Oregon and the Legislature's tentative plan to increase taxes.

He predicted the sale of his building would happen within a year at best.

The company could bring dozens of jobs to the area. Hansen said the company currently employs 45 and the average wage is $11.50 an hour.

Employees also receive benefits, such as health insurance and vacation, he said.

Hansen plans to build a new 65,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at the Industrial park. At $20 a square foot, a building that size would cost $1.3 million. Equipment at the current plant would then be moved to the Dallesport site.

Huggy Bear's Cupboards Inc. has been building "high-end" kitchen cabinets for the past 27 years for the West Coast market as well as Arizona and Colorado, Hansen said.

The company builds two full sets of kitchen cabinets per day, he said, using woods such as cherry, oak and maple.

Klickitat County has been grading land and adding utilities to land in the industrial park during the last few months in hopes of attracting new businesses such as Huggy Bear's to the area.

Commissioners recently gave $459,000 to the Klickitat County Port District to grade and add utilities to 13 acres in the industrial park.

With the recent completion of a wastewater treatment plant in the park, the consensus was to begin development, said Larry Nicholas, Klickitat County Public Works Director.

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