The former International Paper Franklin Sawmill, closed since 2009, has been purchased by Franklin Lumber, and will restart operations in Isle of Wright County, Virginia
by year's end.
"This mill was originally designed to have the capability of manufacturing a variety of lumber products. We plan to take advantage of this by manufacturing a diverse product line that will satisfy a wide range of customers. Our focus is on quality," said Franklin Lumber co-owner Perk Taylor.
"Upgrades in the mill will allow the sawmill to purchase and area loggers to deliver both large and small sawtimber. We believe the changes we are making in the mill which will allow us to cut all sizes of logs will be a benefit to area loggers and landowners," added fellow co-owner Terry Godwin.
A new company started by former employees of the IP mill, Franklin Lumber, will create 72 jobs, with the potential of adding jobs if a second shift is added. The new owners plan to make $14.8 million in new capital investments during the next five years to increase capacity and competitiveness of the mill.
According to the Governor’s office, Franklin Lumber plans to produce 60 million board feet of southern yellow pine lumber annually utilizing one shift. Its products will consist of dimensional lumber for retail, treating and truss manufacturers. The company will also have a strong market for its residual products, including IP, which will purchase wood chips for its recently re-opened fluff mill. More than 40 percent of Franklin Lumber's annual purchases of logs, estimated at almost 300,000 tons, will be sourced from Virginia.
"In addition to the 72 new jobs and new investments, the reopening of the mill will create important new opportunities for loggers and landowners in southeastern Virginia, who have the opportunity to benefit from a new purchaser of forest resources," said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
Based on the IP facility's close proximity, Franklin Lumber and IP worked cooperatively to develop an agreement that enabled Franklin Lumber to purchase IP's dormant sawmill assets, lease the site, and operate the mill.
"The cooperative arrangement between IP and Franklin Lumber is a win-win situation and a great fit for the Franklin Mill and the community," said IP Franklin Mill Operations Manager Jeff Stevens. "This is a great utilization of mill assets. We are very pleased to have re-purposed another portion of IP property and look forward to welcoming our new neighbors."
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Isle of Wight County to help make the project a reality. Governor McDonnell approved a $150,000 matching grant from the Governor's AFID Fund to assist Isle of Wight County with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the State's Enterprise Zone Program and through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program; the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company's recruitment, training and retraining activities.