Rural Revitalization Efforts Intensify

Louisiana’s Forests Bolster Rural Economy

Multibillion-dollar timber industry supports thousands of Louisiana jobs

Louisiana’s Forests Bolster Rural Economy

Louisiana forests provide more than just a pretty view: They are also an economic force. The state’s abundant forests stretch across 14 million acres – nearly half its land area – and timber companies in rural Louisiana rely on these vast thickets.

Maker of YellaWood, Great Southern Wood Preserving is upgrading its Mansura facility.

Timber is a renewable, recyclable resource, making the forest industry a sustainable one. Timber functions like a carbon store, sequestering emissions for a greener world. And because new saplings absorb even more carbon than older trees, reforestation efforts benefit the environment and the forestry industry simultaneously.

Louisiana’s wealth of lumber resources has made it a prime destination for timber and sawmill business operations for decades. Once processed, raw timber products have an economic impact of above $7 billion annually. Forestry-related employment accounts for more than 50,000 jobs in Louisiana, manufacturing lumber, plywood, paper and other products in plants across the state.

“The timber industry has long contributed mightily to Louisiana’s economic growth, with an average impact of $7 billion a year. Investments like this one help to sustain our rural communities and ensure that Louisiana lumber mills will remain an important part of global supply chains for years to come.”

- Gov. John Bel Edwards

In 2022 alone, nearly $200 million in capital investments were made in Louisiana’s timber industry through projects from Great Southern Wood Preserving, RoyOMartin and WestRock Company. The projects also combine to create nearly 300 total new jobs and will retain over 2,000 jobs, bolstering local economies and supporting thousands of Louisiana residents.

Great Southern Wood Announces Two Mansura Lumber Mill Expansions

Great Southern Wood Preserving, the lumber processing company best known for its YellaWood® brand pressure-treated pine, is committing nearly $30 million to its Mansura facility.

In April 2022, the company announced a $22.5 million, 200,000-square-foot expansion that will include a new warehouse, office building and maintenance shop. It announced an additional $5.9 million investment in December, to expand the facility’s remanufacturing division and install four new production lines. The additional equipment will increase the mill’s production capacity and allow for the manufacturing of components used in the oil field and for storm relief and mitigation.

“We’re poised to continue growing in Louisiana, which is a key growth area for us. We couldn’t be more excited about our expansion.” 

- Jimmy Rane, Founder, President and CEO - Great Southern Wood Preserving

With the facility enhancements, the production of supplemental decking components, including rails and balusters, will shift from out-of-state facilities to the Mansura plant. These products will be used on-site as well as at Great Southern locations throughout the U.S., helping offset supply chain interruptions.

The expansions will result in 83 new direct jobs and 228 new indirect jobs, for a total of 311 new jobs in Avoyelles Parish.

WestRock Jumpstarts Jackson Parish Paper Mill Expansion

WestRock Company, a multinational paper and packaging solutions manufacturer, is investing $97 million in its Jackson Parish paper mill to upgrade equipment and modernize all aspects of the facility. With 320 locations employing over 50,000 employees in 30 countries, WestRock is committed to securing jobs and supporting the local economy.

Since it began operations in 1928, WestRock has continued to be a major employer and driver of economic activity in Jackson Parish. This investment in the construction of a new woodyard and new equipment will increase capacity and efficiency, while also reducing operating costs. 

This expansion ensures the long-term viability of a facility that employs more than 450 people with an annual payroll of more than $44 million in north Louisiana. WestRock’s continuing commitment to Louisiana’s timber industry grows the state’s rural communities and creates hundreds of indirect jobs in Jackson Parish alone.

Construction is expected to continue into 2024.

RoyOMartin Invests $9.5 Million to Modernize Manufacturing Facility in Natchitoches Parish

Martco, LLC, the parent company of the third-generation, family-owned timber sourcing and manufacturing company RoyOMartin, is investing $9.5 million to install advanced production equipment at its Natchitoches Parish lumber mill.

The plywood manufacturing facility in Chopin is one of the parish’s largest employers, and the expansion allows the company to retain approximately 684 existing jobs through 2035. 

The Chopin plant began production in 1996 and has since undergone multiple expansions that established it as one of the largest single-site plywood production facilities in North America. The equipment upgrades will add cutting-edge vision and robotics among other technological enhancements, resulting in faster and more efficient production of plywood, timbers and boards.

Martco is a subsidiary of Martin Sustainable Resources, an equity investment company privately held by the family of the Roy O. Martin Lumber Company founder, Roy O. Martin, Sr. The company began operations in 1923 as a single small sawmill in Alexandria; it now owns nearly 550,000 acres of timberland that supplies raw material to manufacturing facilities in Chopin and Oakdale, La., and Corrigan, Texas.