Interfor to invest $8 million to restart DeQuincy sawmill

By Rita LeBleu

In May 2020, Georgia Pacific shut down its sawmill on La. 12 between Ragley and DeQuincy. Now it’s scheduled to be revamped and reopened.  Gov. John Bel Edwards and Interfor Corporation, a wood products company, announced Friday plans to invest up to $8 million to revive the idled sawmill.

The news release from the governor’s office said the project would create 170 direct new jobs with average wages of $62,000, plus benefits.

“We are very excited for the new economic activity heading to DeQuincy,” said DeQuincy Mayor Riley Smith. “I feel like this project will provide a much-needed boost to our economy, providing great new opportunities not only for our residents but also the surrounding area.”

Smith said Interfor representatives said the company would be hiring 155 employees. Some of the management positions will be filled with leadership that held those roles when the plant closed last year.

Georgia Pacific workers are encouraged to apply for rehire, according to Smith.

Interfor is committed to supporting the community, the mayor said. When he asked what the city could do to help Interfor make the transition, they asked only for a venue for an upcoming job fair.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 505 indirect jobs, for a total of 675 new jobs in Louisiana’s Southwest region.

“On behalf of the state of Louisiana, I encourage and welcome Interfor’s investment near DeQuincy,” Edwards said. “Louisiana’s lumber industry is one of our most profitable agricultural exports, and the market for lumber is red hot right now.”

The mill near DeQuincy has an annual lumber production capacity of 200 million board feet, and Interfor plans to restart operations in the first half of 2022. The revived plant will also support significant logging and logistics activity in the region.

The American Press spoke with Interfor VP of Corporate Development & Strategy by phone. Mackay said the plant would produce softwood dimensional lumber, pine.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time assessing the timber after the hurricanes,” Mackay said.

Interfor has operations across North America and around the globe and is one of the world’s largest lumber providers.

“We greatly appreciate all the support in getting this mill back up and running,” said Bruce Luxmoore, Interfor’s Senior Vice President of Southern Operations. “The warm reception, collaborative approach and valuable incentives package have reaffirmed our decision to invest in Louisiana.”

To secure Interfor’s project in DeQuincy, the state is providing a  competitive incentive package that includes the services of LED FastStart – ranked the No. 1 workforce development program in the nation for the past 12 years. Makay said the details of this program are still being worked out and a representative from LED FastStart confirmed.

Additionally, the company is expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs program and Industrial Tax Exemption Program for the new jobs created.

“The restart of the lumber mill at DeQuincy by Interfor is a huge economic win for southwest Louisiana,” said George Swift, President and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “Interfor purchased the shuttered lumber mill from Georgia Pacific, and is investing millions of dollars in preparation of restarting the mill. This investment would create an estimated 450 construction jobs. When the mill is fully operational, Interfor plans to employ 170 permanent workers in quality jobs. We welcome Interfor to southwest Louisiana and thank them for reopening the lumber mill in DeQuincy.”

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