Coushatta sawmill reopening with 90 jobs

Idaho Timber will reopen a sawmill in Coushatta later this year with 90 jobs, paying an average $32,000 annually, plus benefits, company and state officials said Wednesday.

Idaho Timber, based in Boise, will make a $3.5 million capital investment to refurbish and reopen the northwest Louisiana mill by the third quarter.

The site closed in 2008 as a result of the national recession. Idaho Timber LLC recently purchased the facility from Hood Industries.

The sawmill will produce radius-edge decking, dimension lumber and other timber products crafted from southern yellow pine.

The Louisiana Economic Development department estimates the Coushatta mill project will result in an additional 289 new indirect jobs.

The project is expected to create 50 construction jobs.

“Our decision to acquire the former Hood Industries sawmill in Coushatta was influenced by the flexibility of the facility’s manufacturing capability, the knowledgeable and skilled workforce located in the community and surrounding area, and an adequate timber supply,” Idaho Timber CEO Ted Ellis said in a news release.

Idaho Timber has begun renovating the Coushatta mill, which consists of four main structures on approximately 60 acres. The facility includes a 79,000-square-foot sawmill and planer building and three other buildings totaling more than 12,000 square feet that include shop, office and employee break areas.

Several other storage and shed facilities are included at the mill, which dates back more than five decades to the original business, Bobcat Lumber.

“With a great business environment and an abundant supply of natural resources such as timber, Louisiana is helping industries like the forestry sector recover from the national recession, and at the same time, our economy is growing and more job opportunities are being created for our people,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said in the joint announcement.

The state began working with Idaho Timber in October 2012 as the company sought additional capacity with the expected turnaround of the housing industry.

To secure the project, LED offered Idaho Timber the services of the state workforce development program. The company also is expected to use Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.