Officials, company break ground on new kiln at plant
By Matt Caulder
Published in News on October 6, 2013 1:50 AM
Wayne County and state officials join Georgia-Pacific Vice President and General Manager Fritz Mason and Dudley plant manager Tim Anderson as they break ground on the new continuous drying kiln at the sawmill, part of a possible $90 million expansion.
Wayne County commissioners broke ground alongside Georgia-Pacific executives on a project to install a third drying kiln at the Georgia-Pacific lumber mill in Dudley last week.
The new kiln and other improvements will cost around $9 million and are the first part of a possible $90 million expansion coming to the Dudley lumber and plywood mill.
The kiln will double the drying capacity of the sawmill, creating 20 new jobs and increasing the mill's capacity to turn out 2-by-4 and 4-by-4 boards.
Fritz Mason, vice president and general manager of Georgia-Pacific lumber, held the Dudley plant up as a flagship of the Georgia-Pacific lumber mills.
"During the downturn when other mills were closing, the Dudley mill was flourishing. The Dudley team has earned this," Mason said.
Steve Keen, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners, spoke about the effect an industry like Georgia-Pacific has in Wayne County.
"You are one of the five largest agri-businesses in Wayne County, GP has really focused on employees and safety, and the staff has been very sensitive to our visit," Keen said. "As commissioners, we eat, sleep and breathe property tax and sales tax receipts, and this mill fuels that. We believe in what you're doing."
Neil Benton, chairman of the Wayne County Development Alliance, spoke about the value of a large installation like the mill to the county.
"These events are few and far between, but they are the bread and butter of economic development," Benton said. "I want to thank you for your confidence in Wayne County."
The ceremony began after a tour of the facility and an explanation of what the new continuous kiln would mean for the facility -- nearly twice as much productivity.
The expansion comes with an $886,000 incentive package from the county in the form of tax credits to be used over a five-year period.
The credits will go against the taxes on new equipment installed at the mill.
The mill currently employs about 520 employees, and 20 more will be added by the time construction is expected to be completed in mid-2014.