$115 Million Lumber Mill Planned For Central Louisiana


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A $115 million lumber mill will be constructed in central Louisiana and is expected to create 110 onsite jobs, under plans announced Wednesday.

Ruston-based Hunt Forest Products said it will build the facility in Urania, in LaSalle Parish, in a joint venture with Canadian forestry company Tolko Industries. Construction is expected to start in April, with operations slated to begin in early 2019.

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"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," company co-owner James Hunt said in a statement.

Gov. John Bel Edwards hailed the project as a "great economic boost" in the heart of Louisiana's timber country.

The company said the Urania sawmill will use up to 850,000 tons of wood annually to produce about 200 million board feet of lumber a year. Hunt Forest Products, which already operates a lumber mill in nearby Olla and a plywood plant in Pollock, has pledged to prioritize buying timber locally for its new facility.

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Jobs at the Urania mill will pay an average annual salary of $46,000 plus benefits. Hunt said it will employ 60 people when operations begin, building up to 110 employees in later years.

Tolko will own a 50 percent share in the mill, which will be managed and operated by Hunt.

Louisiana is giving the project a forgivable $1 million loan to help cover the costs of building a rail spur for the mill. The project also will get workforce training assistance and other tax breaks from the state.

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