Hunt Forest Products Plans $115 Million Lumber Mill in Urania, Louisiana
The sawmill project is expected to create 110 new direct jobs, according to Louisiana Economic Development. Construction of the mill will begin in April, with operations slated to start in early 2019.
Upon the sawmill’s scheduled beginning of operations in early 2019, Hunt Forest Products initially will employ 60 people and ramp up to 110 employees at full capacity in succeeding years, LED officials said.
“We are excited to be bringing a high-tech sawmill, and the skilled jobs it will provide, to Central Louisiana, and to provide a local outlet for the massive inventory of southern yellow pine that exists in this region,” said company co-owner Hunt, who also is vice chairman of the Hunt Forest Products board of directors. “This will boost the local economy, bring a new generation of sawmill technology to our state, and provide a much-needed outlet for Central Louisiana timber.”
The new $115 million lumber mill also will be a foreign direct investment project. Operating under the name LaSalle Lumber Company LLC, the sawmill is a joint venture between Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries Ltd., a 60-year-old, family-owned Canadian forestry company that produces a wide range of forest products for customers around the world. Based in Vernon, British Columbia, Tolko will own a 50 percent share in the mill, which will be managed and operated by Hunt on a day-to-day basis.
“This is our first venture into the United States,” said Tolko President & CEO Brad Thorlakson, “and we are thrilled to be in Louisiana with Hunt Forest Products, a family-owned company like ours, and one that has played a vital, reliable role in this state’s forestry industry for more than a century.”
To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered a competitive incentive package that includes the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart, the state’s workforce training program.
Hunt Forest Products also will receive a performance-based, forgivable loan of $1 million under the Economic Development Award Program, with those proceeds offsetting the costs to construct a rail spur for the mill. In addition, the company is expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.
Based in Ruston, Louisiana, Hunt Forest Products will prioritize buying timber locally, LED officials said. The Urania sawmill will require up to 850,000 tons of wood per year, with plans to produce approximately 200 million board feet of lumber annually.
Hunt already operates a LaSalle Parish lumber mill in nearby Olla, along with a Grant Parish plywood plant in Pollock. Statewide, Hunt Forest Products employs 350 before the addition of the new Urania sawmill.
“This project is a great economic boost to the center of the state, in the heart of our historic timber industry,” Governor John Bel Edwards said, “and it will help create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs across the forestry, industrial services and retail sectors in Urania and LaSalle Parish.”
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