A two-phase capital investment totaling about $157 million is planned over the next several years for Weyerhaeuser's mill in Holden, according to the company and Louisiana Economic Development. Phase one will be an almost $19 million upgrade to its lumber kiln-driving capacity; phase two will be an investment of about $138 million to modernize the facility, according to a press release from LED.
"Through these investments, Weyerhaeuser will secure 119 existing jobs and create up to four new direct jobs, with the new jobs providing an average annual salary of $50,000, plus benefits," according to the release. "The project would generate an estimated 225 construction jobs, with an estimated payroll of about $25 million. Additionally, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 12 new indirect jobs, for a total of 16 new permanent jobs for Livingston Parish and the Capital Region."
Gov. John Bel Edwards said sustainably made forest products have been a big success in the Louisiana's economy for a long time.
“Weyerhaeuser has had an important role in Louisiana forestry, and these latest investments will extend that impact," he said in the release. "By upgrading the Holden mill and adding the latest in industry technology to improve the facility’s competitiveness, the company will secure its skilled Florida Parishes workforce for years to come.”
Weyerhaeuser has 984 employees in mill manufacturing statewide and its forestry operations manage 1.39 million acres in timberland. In addition to the dimensional lumber mill in Holden, the company's operations in Louisiana included a plywood and veneer mill in Zwolle, and OSB mill near Simsboro, a lumber mill in Dodson, timberland offices and operations in Hammond, Ruston and Winnfield and a nursery and orchard in Taylor, according to the release. This is the second upgrade announcement for Weyerhaeuser in the past six months, as a $16.1 million upgrade was announced for its Natchitoches mill.
“This investment is a testament to each employee here at Holden,” said Brent Mitchell, Holden interim mill manager. “It reflects a personal commitment to the highest level of performance, both operational and safety-wise, that each employee has. After years of planning this project, we’re excited for the sustained benefits it will bring to our people, our operation and the community.”
The upgrade at the Holden mill includes adding a planer mill and two new continuous dry kilns, as well as an upgrade to allow for longer length lumber to be produced. The necessary infrastructure and upgrades to computer technology, control rooms, heating and fan systems, as well as quality and safety equipment improvements will be included and is expected to be completed in about three years.
“I am so excited about the overall Weyerhaeuser expansion project,” Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said. “Not only does such a large expansion project provide local job opportunities, but it also shines a spotlight on the success that companies are having in Livingston Parish. Continued investment in Livingston Parish is an indicator of long-term commitment to our community and high confidence in continued business success for the company.”
LED began talks with Weyerhaeuser in August 2020. LED has offered Weyerhaeuser an incentive package that includes a $2 million tax credit package payable over five years through the Louisiana Retention and Modernization Program. It also will use the state's Industrial Tax Exemption Program incentives, which are subject to final approval by Livingston Parish's local government officials. That vote is expected in the summer.
The Holden facility began lumber operations in 1980 under Crown Zellerbach, and Weyerhaeuser acquired the mill in 1996. Today, the Holden facility is part of Weyerhaeuser’s lumber sector within its overall Wood Products business. The mill supports the residential housing, home improvement and construction markets.
“Weyerhaeuser has been a tremendous contributor to the Livingston Parish economy since 1980, by providing jobs and investments in the local community,” Livingston Economic Development Council President and CEO David Bennett said. “The LEDC is pleased to see the company invest in additional equipment to increase production capacity while also announcing the potential for the largest industrial investment in Livingston Parish history at the Holden facility that will provide jobs for many years to come.”