Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Economy

Forestry industry is driving the rural economy

The Alabama Department of Commerce released a new report this week showing that the forest industry is having a large impact on rural economies.

In 2018, Westervelt Company, Rex Lumber and Great Southern Wood all announced plans for production facilities in Alabama. All combined, over 300 jobs were created at the facilities alone.

In 2018, fifty-one forest products companies created almost 2,000 new jobs across the state and invested $1.3 billion into new facilities and expansion of existing facilities.

The Commerce Department said that this has become a trend in recent years. With 4,500 new jobs having been created over the last three years by the forest industry and investments of nearly $4 billion in new facilities and expansion of existing facilities. The forest industry accounted for 22 percent of total capital invested in Alabama during that time frame.

“Forestry continues to be one of the top industries investing in Alabama’s economy, averaging $600 million dollars annually and creating more than 1,000 new jobs each year over the last 10 years,” said Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice President of the Alabama Forestry Association. “23 million acres of well-managed forests, mostly owned by family forest owners, providing an abundant source of raw material along with an excellent business environment make our state a very attractive place to invest capital.”

These capital investments are particularly important for Alabama’s rural economy. In 2018, the forest industry was the largest capital investor in 15 rural counties and was the largest employer throughout much of rural Alabama.

Economic developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Forestry and paper products is one of the state of Alabama’s targeted industries. Alabama has the second largest timberland base in the nation, with over 23 million acres dedicated to forestry. Recent data shows that Alabama exported 1.3 billion dollars of forestry products annually, and the industry contributes a total of over 23 billion dollars annually to Alabama’s economy. These numbers continue to attract companies (and more jobs) to our state.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

To support this growth, the Alabama Forestry Association and the Forest Workforce Training Institute (FWTI) have implemented a workforce development program (ForestryWorks) to ensure a steady supply of workers across the forest industry. FWTI staff work alongside career counselors, teachers, and school administrators to expose students and parents to the growing career opportunities in forestry, especially in rural parts of the state.

“Just as we plant trees to grow future forests, we will continue to invest in today’s students to grow tomorrow’s forestry workforce,” said Isaacson.

You can learn more about the Forest Workforce Training Institute here.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

More from the Alabama Political Reporter

Economy

But the monthly total of online job ads is down 0.5 percent versus the previous month.

Economy

Alabama’s December unemployment rate was 2.8 percent.

Opinion

Alabama has proven it has a skilled workforce ready to build the world’s very best American-made airplanes.

Economy

The roundtable, featuring top lawmakers, will highlight the positive impact of economic incentives.

Economy

Online job ads in November were down 6.8 percent compared to last year.

Local news

The city awarded the funds to several local organizations to boost economic development.

Economy

Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved three points.

Legislature

Paramore has spent 20 years as the director of governmental affairs for Troy University as well as a decade on the Troy City Council.