By Spc. Shejal Pulivarti
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq –The State Company for Furniture Industry-Baghdad, located near Taji, Iraq, filled its first furniture order in almost two years.
The Baghdad 5 Embedded Provincial Team attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division purchased and picked up 200 pieces of furniture from the factory with the facilitation assistance of Comanche Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, Nov. 11.
The workers excitedly showcased their finished pieces of decorative furnishings. The plant manager stated that they have come along way, but there is much work to be completed before the plant is again fully operational.
The primary economic activity in Iraq is agrarian based. Coalition forces assessed 27 former state-owned enterprises and the 1st BCT partnered with EPRT is working to restart seven of them based on their regional economic impact; one of which is the furniture factory. To get the factory started, the brigade recently bought 50 pieces of four different styles of furniture.
"This furniture factory when fully functioning employs 250 people, but only a minimal staff remained over the years," said Henning, Tenn., native Navy Capt. John Dillender, the economics and industrial advisor for Baghdad 5 EPRT. "The emphasis on security enabled approximately 30 workers in total to be employed now.
"We had a contract with them and it provided increased opportunities in employments as well as an immediate cash infusion to the surrounding area which in return allows the factory to operate," Dillender said. "Over time, with the improvements in the area, we expect more locals to return home and re-establish more businesses transitioning back to normalcy. We like to see people working, having jobs and helping the economy."
The furniture currently being stored at a nearby combat outpost is planned to be distributed between schools, government buildings and micro-finance loan offices located in the Taji region, Dillender said.
Recent reconciliation efforts have provided a safer and more secure area enabling the Ironhorse Brigade to shift from their primary focus of security to providing vital services, rebuilding and assisting the Iraqi-led communities to become self-sustaining.
"There is great support and enthusiasm from the populace as they want safety, prosperity and a chance for a better life," said Jacksonville, Fla., native Tom Burke, team leader of Baghdad 5 EPRT. "More are looking for small business opportunities, public works projects or going back to farming and agricultural production."
This work, Re-establishing normalcy: Furniture factory fills first order in two years, by SSG Shejal Pulivarti, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.