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State of the art sawmill opens in Henry County

Brandon Moseley

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey attended the official opening of Abbeville Fiber LLC, a state-of-the-art sawmill that will employ 115 people in Henry County once the facility is fully staffed. The $40 million investment is the largest economic development project in the county’s history, with $40 million invested to date.

“What I have seen here today represents the best of Alabama — good people who are proud of their work and doing it to the best of their ability,” said Ivey, who toured the facility. “There is an atmosphere of enthusiasm here, a belief that the future holds great promise. The workers here are a part of building something special for the local community and our state.”

Abbeville Fiber’s lone client will be Great Southern Wood Preserving Inc., part of the Alabama-based Great Southern Wood family of companies that operates internationally.

Jimmy Rane is the president and CEO of Great Southern Wood and the wealthiest person in the state of Alabama.

“With the opening of the sawmill, we will be continuing to invest in our most valuable resource — the people in our hometown and throughout the entire Wiregrass,” Rane said. “This state-of-the-art facility is not just about producing the highest quality wood products, it is about empowering people to provide a better life for their families and building a stronger, more prosperous community for all of us.”

The new facility just received its first load of logs on July 8 and currently employs 65 people. It will utilize 40 to 45 truckloads of locally sourced logs per day.

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, which includes 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.”

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Jones said, “Abbeville Fiber is a win for rural Alabama. The sawmill currently employs 65 people and is estimated to increase employment to approximately 115 by this time next year, which will bring continued economic benefits for Henry County.”

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At that time, the facility will be milling an incredible 80 to 90 truckloads of logs per day. The project is reportedly in a federal Opportunity Zone making it eligible for additional tax benefits.

Last year the forestry industry launched Alabama growth projects valued at $1.3 billion creating almost 2,000 new jobs, according to Alabama Department of Commerce data.

Over the last five years, economic development projects in the forest products industry have attracted more than $5 billion in new investment creating over 6,000 jobs in Alabama, according to the Alabama Commerce Department.

These project are also contributes to Alabama’s efforts to advance economic development in the state’s rural areas, which saw $1.1 billion in new investment creating more than 1,100 jobs in counties with fewer than 25,000 residents.

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