Hunt Forest Products of Ruston and its Canadian partner Tolko Industries will build a $115 million sawmill in LaSalle Parish in the heart of Louisiana timber country.
The project will eventually create more than 100 direct permanent jobs.
“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 James D. Hunt, co-owner and vice chairman of Hunt Forest Products.
“We believe this is the right project, in the right place, at the right time,” Hunt said. “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.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards said the new plant will create economic development waves throughout the region.
“This project is a great economic boost to the center of the state, in the heart of our historic timber industry, and it will help create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs across the forestry, industrial services and retail sectors in Urania and LaSalle Parish,” Edwards said.
Tolko, which produces a wide range of forest products for customers globally, will own a 50 percent share of LaSalle Lumber Company. Hunt Forest Products will manage and operate the plant.
“This is our first venture into the United States, 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,” said Brad Thorlakson, Tolko president and chief executive.
The companies will access the Louisiana Department of Economic Development’s FastStart workforce development program in coordination with Central Louisiana Technical Community College to build and train the workforce for the new mill.
LaSalle Lumber Co. will be situated in Urania on the 125-acre site of a previous mill and adjacent to one of Drax Biomass’ wood pellet plants.
Byproducts of LaSalle Lumber will supply the Drax Biomass’ plant, while the lumber produced at the mill will be sold to other companies and customers.
Drax Biomass announced earlier this month it was moving its corporate headquarters from Atlanta to Monroe. It also operates a wood pellet plant in Morehouse Parish as well as one in Mississippi.