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Students pen plan for post and rail firm

| February 1, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

A pair of business management students at the Lincoln County Campus have undertaken an internship project that could have an impact on the area¹s economic future as well as on their own.

Bruce Foss and Judith Nixon are wrapping up a business plan for Luck-E-G Post & Rail, a Blanchard, Idaho, firm looking to expand its operations to Libby. The company has been in business in Idaho since 1976 and currently employs about 25 log haulers, who supply the firm with the small-diameter lodgepole it processes into posts and rails.

Luck-E-G is looking to set up shop on the former Stimson mill site now owned and operated by the Lincoln County Port Authority. Plans are to employ eight people by August and about three times that many within three to five years.

Inspired by the connection he¹s seen between the state¹s economic development agencies and the university system, Kootenai River Development Council director Paul Rumelhart turned to the Lincoln County Campus for help in bringing Luck-E-G to Libby.

³I thought it would be really cool if we had a strong tie with our community college here in Libby,² he said.

Rumelhart worked with campus director Pat Pezzelle and business instructor Chad Shilling to develop a plan that would benefit the students along with the business and the county as a whole. Business students at the campus are required to complete an internship during the last semester of the two-year program, but what was developed in this case turned out to be a little more detailed.

³We kind of threw them into the deep end of the pool on this thing,² Shilling said.

Both Foss and Nixon are former employees of the Stimson mill with a good understanding of the wood products industry. Using their knowledge, they have been able to help Luck-E-G¹s owner draw up a formal business plan.

³The small businessman has a plan in his head, but we¹ve had to pull it out,² Nixon said.

It¹s been a challenge, Foss said.

³It¹s real, so what you do counts,² he said. ³In school, if you make a mistake you can go back and correct it.²

The program gives students a chance to take what they¹ve learned in the classroom and see how it works in the real world, Pezzelle said.

³They¹re going to make a difference in jobs coming here, they¹re going to make a difference in other people being able to make money here in Libby,² he said.