May 13, 2002 11:00 pm

The Union County commissioners have started recognizing area companies that are making a difference in the county. Every few months the commissioners plan to honor a local company. A few months ago the commissioners honored Fleetwood Industries for its contributions, including the recent addition of 100 employees. Recently, the commissioners had a Boise Corp. Appreciation Day.

The commissioners took the time, in both cases, to invite community leaders to the businesses to have lunch, learn about the business and take tours. The goal is to show appreciation for those companies that are making a difference in our community. Fleetwood did that by recently adding 100 jobs. Boise does it day in and day out. The company's impact on the community cannot be understated.

Boise isn't only the county's largest employer, with payroll and benefits of about $42 million a year in the Northeast Region. The company is a great corporate citizen, taking part in community events and contributing substantially to organizations that make our community a better place to live.

The county's proclamation recognizing Boise mentioned several reasons why the company deserves an appreciation day: the four plants the company operates in the county, employing 800 people, upgrading facilities and implementing environmentally sound management practices, earning certification under the Sustainable Forest Initiative, and Boise's role in community development. The county's recognition of the company was well justified. Boise has become more than just a timber company and more than just an employer. It has demonstrated its commitment to the region, to its employees and its community.

Over the past decade or so timber companies became targets for ridicule. But Boise has shown that it can be responsive to reasoned concerns. The company's Northeast Region has become a leader in responsible private forest management practices. Too, in recent years Boise has reached out more than ever to the community, contributing to and assisting numerous groups in their efforts to make our community a better place. Boise is one of the area's best for responding to community needs, whether it be for United Way or youth projects or other special needs that crop up from time to time. That responsiveness says a lot about the company's mission and its dedication to the region.

Bruce Cartmel, Boise's Northeast Region manager, reiterated that the company is "here for the long haul.'' In just the past year, it has completed 10 major capital investments in its four Northeast Oregon plants. Those investments are good news for the people who work for Boise, and they bode well for the future.

The county commissioners need to keep recognizing the people and companies — large or small — that are making a difference. Boise's contributions are doing just that.