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Roseburg Forest Products is  investing $200 million to build a high-tech sawmill in Weldon.

Roanoke Valley Lumber was codenamed Project Big Rock as Halifax County commissioners worked out an incentive package designed to keep the Roseburg project in Halifax County. The sawmill will be located on Watkins Drive in Weldon.

Governor Roy Cooper made the announcement today at Halifax Community College.

The project is expected to create 137 jobs. “We are continuing our efforts to bring good paying jobs to rural North Carolina and it will be great to have Roseburg Forest Products in Halifax County,” said Cooper. “This decision underscores the confidence companies have in our state, our location, our workforce and our quality of life.”

Even before today’s announcement, Roseburg Senior Vice President of Operations Jake Elston said the company has had a presence in Halifax County when it opened up an office off Highway 125 and has been buying timber in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. “We think you’re getting a great company and we think we’re getting a great community.”

The large-scale purchase of timber in this area and surrounding areas has made the company the largest private timberland owner in the Roanoke Valley area, following its 2017 purchase of 158,000 acres of timberland in North Carolina and Virginia.

“Our business model of growing trees, converting them into high-quality wood products that improve people’s lives, then replanting to start the process over again is testament to our long-term commitment to our industry and the communities where we operate,” Elston said. “We are excited to build and operate a world-class facility, while growing our relationships and serving key clients on the Eastern Seaboard with expanded product offerings.”

Roseburg said in a press release that construction of the new 375,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022, with startup scheduled for later that year. 

The company said Roanoke Valley Lumber will be one of the highest-capacity sawmills on the East Coast, capable of producing as many as 400 million board feet of dimensional lumber per year.

“Low interest rates, a surge in home remodeling, and growing demand for single-family housing are pushing the industry to increase domestic lumber production capacity as quickly as possible,” Roseburg President and CEO Grady Mulbery said. “This new mill is an exciting strategic growth opportunity that integrates well with our other North American operations and client base. We are grateful to the state of North Carolina, and the county and town partners who helped make this project possible.”

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said, “With its timberland, Roseburg has been long rooted in North Carolina, but today’s announcement is a celebration of the strong foundation that our economy and workforce can provide growing companies.”

She said “the company’s decision to add a second United States sawmill operation in Halifax County proves that with the right partnerships, business climate and a diverse talent pipeline, North Carolina will continue to attract innovative manufacturers to all corners of our state.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce led the state’s efforts to support Roseburg’s decision to locate the sawmill.

Salaries for the new positions will vary. Once all the positions are filled, the average annual salary for all new positions is $50,796, which is above the Halifax County average salary of $34,225. The project could create a potential annual payroll impact of more than $6.9 million per year.

State Representative Michael H. Wray said, “We appreciate the company for choosing to invest in our community. This outstanding economic development win is the result of the collaboration of our local, regional and state leadership.”

State Senator Milton “Toby” Fitch Jr. said, “Roseburg Forest Products' arrival will spark manufacturing in Halifax County with its new high-tech sawmill. We are excited to have the company grow their presence in our community and we’re eager to support their success.”

Halifax County Board of Commissioners Chairman Vernon Bryant said, “This is an exciting investment by a company that represents significant growth opportunities for Weldon and Halifax County.”

Said Bryant: “Roseburg is a first-class manufacturer, and we celebrate the partnerships that have been created to support the company’s decision to locate in Halifax County. This is an incredible accomplishment.” 

Weldon Mayor Julia Meacham is looking forward to the prospects. “The town of Weldon is thrilled to welcome Roseburg Forest Products to our community. This project will be transformational for the town. We look forward to working with the company and our local partners in supporting Roseburg’s long-term growth and success here.”

Roseburg’s expansion will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier today. 

Over the course of the 12-year term of the grant, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by more than $511 million. 

Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the 137 new jobs, the JDIG agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $2,088,000 spread over 12 years. 

Payments for all JDIGs only occur following performance verification by the departments of Commerce and Revenue that the company has met its incremental job creation and investment target of $182 million. 

JDIG projects result in positive net tax revenue to the state treasury, even after taking into consideration the grant’s reimbursement payments to a given company.

The 137 new jobs are anticipated over the first two years.

Roseburg currently has 14 manufacturing facilities in North America, including the country’s second largest short lumber stud mill in Dillard, Oregon. The company carefully selected the site for this new mill, with criteria including market demand, business climate, and workforce readiness at the top of the list. The selected site’s proximity to the company’s Roanoke Rapids timber management office was a factor, as well.

Roseburg has contracted with BID Group to design, build and equip the sawmill complex.