DODSON, La. (News release) - Weyerhaeuser, one of the world's largest private owners of timberland including 1.39 million acres in Louisiana, announced it is investing $96.2 million to modernize and decarbonize its Winn Parish lumber mill. The upgraded technology is designed to increase overall safety, productivity and product reliability.
The investment will allow the company to retain 157 direct jobs and maintain an associated annual payroll of more than $13 million, while reinforcing Louisiana's foothold in the residential construction supply chain.
"We are proud to announce another multimillion-dollar investment in our state's booming timber industry, demonstrating yet again how our state's groundbreaking Climate Action Plan is driving economic growth across a wide range of industries," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "Weyerhaeuser's reinvestment in its Dodson facility is a win not only for Winn Parish and Louisiana's vibrant agribusiness sector, but also the rural communities whose workers rely on the hundreds of existing jobs this modernization will preserve."
The project includes the installation of three Continuous Dry Kilns (CDK), a new, low-carbon process drying system. This modernized technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste and maintenance costs while increasing drying capacity. The facility will also add a new trimmer, sorter and stacker to improve mill efficiencies and help reach production targets.
"This investment is a testament to each employee here at Dodson," said Anthony Bivings, Dodson mill manager. "It reflects their personal commitment to the highest level of performance, both operational and safety. We've been working very hard on this project, and we're excited for the sustained benefits it will bring to our people, our operations, and the Dodson and Winn Parish communities."
Weyerhaeuser has eight locations in Louisiana, including timberland operational bases in Hammond, Ruston and Winnfield; lumber mills in Dodson and Holden; and a plywood and veneer mill in Zwolle that, along with its oriented strand board mill in Arcadia, supplies its Natchitoches Microllam manufacturing facility.
"I am excited for the recently announced investments and upgrades coming to Weyerhaeuser," Dodson Mayor Richie Broomfield said. "In communities like Dodson, people typically find work at the mill or in the woods. Timber employs many of our families here in Winn Parish and is a crucial resource for our economy, so when companies invest millions of dollars into a small community like ours, it's a big deal."
The company plans to install the first two CDKs by the end of 2024. The additional new equipment is expected to be installed by the end of the second quarter in 2025.
"We are very proud of the growth of Weyerhaeuser and its investment into jobs in Winn Parish and the Central Region," Winn Parish Police Jury President Josh McAllister said. "I come from the timber industry by trade, so I understand the importance and impact of investments like this for the local industry and workforce. In Winn Parish, we are always searching for economic opportunities and growth and are thankful for strong industry and community partners to bring these investments to our region."
To secure the project in Dodson, the state of Louisiana offered Weyerhaeuser a competitive incentives package that includes a $500,000 performance-based forgivable loan from the Economic Development Award Program for infrastructure improvements and equipment. The company is also expected to participate in the state's Industrial Tax Exemption Program.
"Weyerhaeuser is and has been a major contributor to the economies of Dodson, Winn Parish, and the greater Central Louisiana region," Louisiana Central President and CEO Jim Clinton said. "The announcement of a $96.2 million new investment for facility and equipment upgrades means that Weyerhaeuser will retain 157 good-paying jobs, continuing the company's role as a leader in regional economic impact."