CRAWFORD COUNTY, Mich., (From news reports) -- The most modern and productive panel facility in North America is officially up and running in Crawford County.
Arauco held its ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grayling Particleboard Plant Tuesday afternoon.
Just over two years ago, crews broke ground on the Grayling Particleboard facility.
$450 million later and the president of Arauco says this is one of the most important investments the company has made in North America.
"It's a humbling day for us to finally bring this project to the point where we're ready to enter into business," said Kelly Shotbolt, President of Arauco North America.
Shotbolt said Michigan is the office furniture capitol of the world and Grayling offers a sustainable source of wood to meet the high demand for raw and fully finished particleboard furniture.
"We must have a sustainable world, we must contribute to a sustainable world," Shotbolt said. "The amount of growth in the forest after this millage bill will continue to be three times greater than the amount of wood that we will extract from the forest. That sustainability was key for us before we would locate in this region."
We're told the wood itself is coming from within a 70-mile radius of the plant and is being bought from local forest product companies and lumber operations.
"For every one job that's here there are three other jobs in support services," said Graylinf Particleboard Plant Manager Matt Gibbon. "Whether it's in forest products, trucking, restaurants, all that will support this new business."
Since construction began in 2017, Gibbon said the project has created around 700 temporary jobs, and 225 full-time jobs.
"90 percent of the people that we've hired came from Michigan," Gibbon said. "We're going to teach them how to make particleboard and how to be business leaders and business partners in the particleboard business."
The 820,000 square-foot facility is the largest particleboard plant in the world.