The long-awaited restart of Kenora Forest Products received a cash injection courtesy of the federal government.

Local MP Greg Rickford, the federal natural resources minster and FedNor czar, announced July 8 of a $3 million “repayable contribution” to Prendiville Industries, the operation’s parent company, to assist in the Kenora stud sawmill’s September restart and expansion.

Manitoba-based Prendiville is investing millions to modernize the shuttered operation and install an additional sawline. Among the improvements include adding another dry kiln and constructing a new 340-foot long planer mill, outfitted with the latest technology, with plans to make machine stress-related lumber.

In a July 8 news release, Rickford said the funds will support the operation’s long-term competitiveness by modernizing the facilities and bringing jobs to his hometown.

The mill had been shuttered since April 2008 when the crash of the U.S. housing market caused Prendiville to close the operation and lay off 105 employees.

The company had been holding job fairs in Kenora to hire a similar number of workers.

Earlier this year, the union representing workers at the mill ratified a six-year deal.

The new contract negotiated with Unifor included a 67 per cent increase in employer contributions to employee pensions, a production pay raise of 18 per cent and a 36 per cent increase for licensed trades.