Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that the former International Paper (IP) Franklin Sawmill, closed since 2009, has been purchased by Franklin Lumber, LLC and will restart operations by year’s end. A new company started by former employees of the IP mill, Franklin Lumber will create 72 jobs with the reopening of the facility, with the potential to create additional jobs when a second shift is added, as market conditions allow. The new owners plan to make $14.8 million in new capital investments to the facility over the next five years to increase the capacity and competitiveness of the mill.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “Over the last three and a half years, our administration’s focus has been on creating jobs and new economic opportunities for citizens throughout the Commonwealth, with an approach that fully incorporates all of Virginia’s numerous and diverse economic sectors, including our two largest industries of agriculture and forestry. The forestry industry has long been among the top economic drivers for Virginia in general and this region in particular. Accordingly, I am pleased to see this sector continuing to gain strength, right along with the rest of Virginia’s economy, as a result of our focused and strategic efforts.”

Franklin Lumber plans to produce 60 million board feet of southern yellow pine lumber annually utilizing one shift. Its products will consist of dimensional lumber for retail, treating and truss manufacturers. The company will also have a strong market for its residual products, including IP, which will purchase wood chips for its recently re-opened fluff mill. More than 40% of Franklin Lumber’s annual purchases of logs, estimated at almost 300,000 tons, will be sourced from Virginia. Total wood receipts paid to area loggers and landowners likely will exceed $10 million on an annual basis.

“In addition to the 72 new jobs and new investments, the reopening of the mill will create important new opportunities for loggers and landowners in southeastern Virginia, who have the opportunity to benefit from a new purchaser of forest resources,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “With the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, and its Virginia-grown component driving purchases of the Commonwealth’s high quality agricultural and forestry products, having been in place now for almost one year, projects such as this one highlight the economic development gains that can be made while building on two of Virginia’s largest industries.”