Idaho company will reopen sawmill closed in '08

5/1/2013 4:30 PM
By Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An Idaho company has bought a shuttered sawmill in Coushatta and plans to reopen it later this year, creating 90 jobs, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Tuesday. The mill closed in 2008 because of the recession.

Idaho Timber LLC, of Boise, is renovating the mill recently purchased from Hood Industries of Hattiesburg, Miss., and expects to reopen it in the third quarter of this year, president and CEO Ted Ellis told a news conference Tuesday.

He said the company wanted to expand in the South, and liked the Coushatta mill for its flexibility, the area's skilled workforce and its timber supply.

Salaries will average $32,000 a year and hiring has begun, according to a news release. The mill had 119 workers when it closed in May 2008.

Coushatta has nearly 2,000 residents and rural Red River Parish has 9,100. Preliminary state figures show 3,465 parish residents had jobs and 257 were unemployed in March. However, the mill probably won't cut parish unemployment by one-third.

"Some new employees may be hired from outside the parish, and other factors may influence unemployment," Louisiana Economic Development spokesman Gary Perriloux said in an email.

The company is expected to use the state's workforce development program, its industrial tax exemption and payroll rebates for new jobs, officials said.

Idaho Timber will spend $3.5 million to renovate the facility, which includes a 79,000-square-foot sawmill and planer building and three other buildings totaling more than 12,000 square feet.

The sawmill will produce radius-edge decking, dimension lumber and other timber products from southern yellow pine.

The state began working with Idaho Timber in October 2012 as the company sought additional capacity with the expected turnaround of the housing industry.

The state said applicants can ask about jobs during regular work hours at the Coushatta mill site at 306 Wilkinson St., email Coy Ernst at cernst(at); or through Idaho Timber's Corporate Office in Boise: (208) 377-3000 (phone) or (208) 377-1470 (fax).

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