Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the start of construction Monday on a $110 million lumber production facility that will support the creation of nearly 500 new jobs in Northwest Louisiana.
Teal Jones Group, an international forestry products company based in Canada, disclosed in December that it was considering Northwest Louisiana as the site of a new southern yellow pine lumber plant. The company made its final investment decision official at a groundbreaking ceremony Monday that was also attended by LED Secretary Don Pierson, Teal Jones CEO Tom Jones, company President Dick Jones and other regional and local officials.
“Louisiana’s wealth of timber resources has made it a prime destination for lumber and sawmill business operations for many years,” Gov. Edwards said. “We’re gratified that Teal Jones has chosen to become a part of that long tradition. This project will stimulate economic activity, create good jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region and contribute to the revitalization of our state’s rural communities. It is a powerful reaffirmation of the important role our state’s agribusiness sector plays in the growth and diversification of Louisiana’s economy.”
Site preparation of the 235-acre greenfield facility in Plain Dealing is underway and expected to be complete by Q3 2023. Site work includes creating access to nearby railway infrastructure and timberlands, which the company cited as key factors in its decision to build its first plant in Louisiana. The company, which is headquartered in British Columbia, also has U.S. operations in Virginia and Mississippi.
The project is expected to create 125 new direct jobs, with average annual salaries of $47,000 plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will also support at least 369 indirect jobs, for a total of 494 prospective new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region. The company estimates up to 120 construction jobs at peak construction.
● When complete, the facility will produce a wide range of dimensional and specialty lumber products with a production capacity of 300 million board feet per year.
● In addition to lumber, the company plans to sell residual fiber products, including chips and sawdust, to local pulp and pellet plants.
● To secure the project, Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes the services of the LED FastStart workforce development program, which will support recruitment and training. The company is also expected to complete the application and approval process for the state’s Quality Jobs program and to pursue a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement with local taxing entities.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
● Tom Jones, CEO of the Teal Jones Group of Companies: “We are excited to invest in this project, one that will bring long-term prosperity, jobs and other development opportunities in rail and infrastructure to Plain Dealing, Louisiana. Teal Jones is a family owned and operated forestry company with operations spreading throughout Canada and the United States. The Plain Dealing mill is an exciting and important step in our continued expansion.”
● Dick Jones, president of Teal Jones: “To date, our company has purchased four tired old sawmills in the South that are on track to be transformed into top quartile operations, thereby preserving existing jobs and increasing the workforce by 150%. We would like to extend our gratitude to Governor Edwards, Mayor Shavonda Gay, the dedicated team at Louisiana Economic Development and our many new partners and friends in the region for their warm hospitality and for investing and otherwise supporting this project.”
● Rocky Rockett, executive director and president of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation: “Having these critical strategic incentives and the active participation of our local and state partners enabled GBEDF to help get the project approved and funded expeditiously for Teal Jones Group. It’s exciting to see our collaborative process working for the good of the region and bringing new economic prosperity to this community.”
● Plain Dealing Mayor Shavonda Gay: “Plain Dealing is honored to have a new employer locate here. Both our community and the surrounding towns welcome Teal Jones to our home. Plain Dealing is committed to helping find qualified employees for Teal Jones. We want Teal Jones to succeed in producing superior product for the marketplace. We thank the state, Bossier Parish and its related government, and Teal Jones and its investors for choosing our area for this sawmill.”