A large, international industrial manufacturing company is ready to expand and has its eyes on Missoula.

But before company officials decide if they’ll settle it here – bringing with it hundreds of jobs that pay well – they want to know if Missoula has the work force to support it.

“They’re very enamored with us, what is missing is that they’re not 100 percent sure we can supply a qualified work force,” said Wolf Ametsbichler, Missoula Job Service director. “What they need are certified – and that’s important – welders, pipefitters, boilermakers, people with metal fabrication skills.

“We’re looking at 200 to 300 jobs.”

Ametsbichler said he couldn’t reveal the company’s name, but said it’s well-known, well-respected and wants a site to manufacture large “vessels” to be transported to and used in the oil fields in Alberta. It’s a clean operation and that needs to get under as soon as possible, he said.

So far, the Missoula Economic Partnership, along with Job Service and local union representatives, have collaborated to “show the company what Missoula has,” Ametsbichler said.

Now, Ametsbichler is ready to collect resumes to help seal the deal. Job Service has listed a welder pipefitter job listing on its website to solicit resumes from interested workers.

Job Service’s pseudo job order is an “innovative and creative way to determine and demonstrate available skill,” Ametsbichler said.

The company is currently looking at several sites in Montana. In Missoula, its focus is on the former Bonner millsite. It can’t expand in Canada, Ametsbichler said, because there aren’t qualified workers left there.

The jobs would pay $25 to $30 an hour and include benefits. It could create a cluster of manufacturing and professional services companies here supporting the oil industry, Ametsbichler said.

“This could mean we’re finally overcoming the disaster from Smurfit and Stimson ... Missoula is well back on the way if this happens. That’s why it’s important we get max response from folks,” Ametsbichler said.

The job listing is posted under job No. 2982700 or title “Welder Pipefitter Opportunity” at Job Service’s website, employmissoula.com. People can also call or come to the office for more information, Ametsbichler said. Those interested need to submit a resume and any industrial certifications they have.

Steve Carey, business manager of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union Local 459, is encouraging his members to submit their resumes.

Work has been scarce for this kind of trade recently and Carey hopes that the local workers get first shot at the jobs.

“I’ve probably got one-third of what they’re looking for with my local union membership. As far as skill level, it’s there,” said Carey, who noted the rest of the workers could be found throughout the region.

To be clear: There are no jobs to offer yet. But the response – or lack thereof – to the listing will be extremely telling for the future of manufacturing in Missoula.

“Without a positive response I can guarantee there won’t be a job, with a positive response, we’re really going to demonstrate people are here and they’re ready to go,” said James Grunke, Missoula Economic Partnership president and chief executive officer.

Grunke has seen an increase in interest lately from manufacturing companies looking at Missoula as a spot to do business. He and his staff have been conducting roughly one site visit per week, compared to one a month at the beginning of the year.

If this particular company doesn’t make the move, the information from the job opportunity listing will be used in the future.

“With an exercise like Wolf is doing, we can demonstrate to future employers that we can meet the needs,” Grunke said.

Ametsbichler said the net will be cast wide to find the workers. It could be an excellent opportunity for workers displaced to the Bakken oil fields to come home.

“We want western Montanans to have well-paying jobs. This is also an opportunity for those in North Dakota, eastern Montana, wherever they are, to come home,” Ametsbichler said.

There isn’t a magic number of qualified job seekers company representatives wants to see, Ametsbichler said, but they want to know quickly. Those interested should apply before the end of the week, Ametsbichler said.

“Speed is important,” he said. “We’re confident the work force is out there but we just need to show it.”

Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at jenna.cederberg@missoulian.com.

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