December 5, 2022

New wood products plant in northeast Minnesota | The daily briefing

A new wood products manufacturing plant is coming to northeast Minnesota.

Huber Engineered Woods LLC (HEW), based in Charlotte, North Carolina, today announced plans to construct a $440 million oriented strand board plant in Cohasset. HEW is a subsidiary of JM Huber Corp., a 138-year-old family business headquartered in Edison, NJ,

A $15 million package providing financial assistance to help the company build the plant was recommended for approval today at a special meeting of the board of directors of the Department of Resources and Rehabilitation of the Minnesota iron chain.

The plant will be built on more than 400 acres of property currently owned by Minnesota Power at its Boswell Energy Center.

With the approval of support from Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation and other financial aid, the project is moving towards construction.

“This is one of the biggest projects we’ve done,” said Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Commissioner Mark Phillips. “That’s a very cool thing.”

Construction of the plant is expected to take approximately two years.

About 300 to 400 construction workers will be needed to build the plant.

About 158 ​​will be employed directly at the plant with a median wage of $31 per hour plus benefits. Several hundred indirect jobs in the forest products industry, transportation and supplier support services will also be created.

It is expected that 150 logging trucks per day will be needed to supply the mill with wood.

Approximately 20,000 trucks and 330 wagons per year will be needed to transport the finished product from the factory.

HEW already operates five factories in the United States.

The Cohasset plant will be its most efficient and sustainable operation, the company says.

“This new chapter of growth for our company, with the development of our sixth plant, is the result of tremendous collaboration between our company, Governor (Tim) Walz and leaders from an array of entities across the state. of Minnesota,” Brian Carlson, the HEW president said in a press release. “We look forward to being an integral part of the community and a key partner in the future success of the county and the state. We are pleased to bring this new investment and set of employment opportunities to Itasca County and surrounding areas. We want our new operations to be a shining example of our company’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The plant will consume about 800,000 to one million tons of mainly aspen per year.

“I’m really excited about the opportunities this brings not only to our community, but also to the region,” said Sen. Justin Eichorn of Grand Rapids.

Over the past decade or more, the number of wood products mills has steadily declined.

The closure of the Verso factory in Duluth in June 2020 is the most recent closure. In 2009 the factory in Ainsworth near Cook, a producer of oriented strand board, also closed. Mill closures have reduced the market for wood, causing a number of loggers to leave the forest products industry.

“We’ve lost so many paper mills and board mills over the years,” Phillips said. “We are down consumption.”

HEW is a subsidiary of JM Huber Corp.

JM Huber manufactures specialty engineered wood materials, creates engineered woods and a variety of food, beverage, household products and industrial applications.

Its product line includes liners, roof liners, wall liners, insulation liners, full length liners and subfloors.

The company is big on community involvement, according to JM Huber’s website. The company supports local education programs, wellness programs, affordable housing initiatives, and donates proceeds and funds to humanitarian causes, according to the website.

For years, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation has been looking to attract another large wood products mill to the area, Phillips said.

“That’s been our number one priority,” said Phillips of the HEW project. “There’s been a lot of attention on that.”

The region’s extensive lumber basket and technical talent contributed to HEW’s decision to locate in northeast Minnesota, according to Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.

State support comes from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Douglas J. Johnson Economic Protection Trust Fund and Minnesota 21st Fund of the Century.

With Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, Minnesota Department of Jobs and Economic Development, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, City of Cohasset, Itasca County, Minnesota Power and Itasca County Economic Development Corp ., contribute to development.