Sporting goggles and cutting through a log with a chainsaw, Governor Brian Kemp dedicated Georgia-Pacific’s new lumber mill in Warrenton Nov. 6.
Georgia-Pacific hosted a saw cutting (ribbon cutting) officially opening its new, $135 million, 340-000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that employs 179 people.
Joining Kemp in the dedication of the mill at 331 Thomson Highway were Georgia Pacific President and CEO Christian Fischer, Fritz Mason, president and general manager of Georgia Pacific Lumber, Secretary of Agriculture Gary Black, and Warren County Commission Chairman John Graham. Georgia-Pacific hosted Congressman Jody Hice and World War II veteran, Master Sergeant Luciano “Louis” Graziano of Thomson. Speaker after speaker thanked Graziano for his service and stated that they were honored to be in his presence.
“Our Governor is truly committed to making the whole state prosperous and full of opportunity to grow,” Fischer said in introducing Kemp.
Georgia, Kemp said, is not only a business-friendly state, but also is a woods-friendly state. He told the audience that he was excited to officially open the Georgia-Pacific facility in Warrenton. The new plant is not only good for employees and the local community but also for landowners, Kemp said.
“Opportunities like this are not just good for this county,” Kemp said. “They are giving opportunity for people in this whole region.”
The Governor thanked state and local officials from across the area for supporting the new facility in Warrenton. “This makes for good economic development in our state and would serve us well in the future.”
Kemp said Georgia-Pacific is a great testament to opportunity in a rural part of the state. “To keep communities like Warrenton strong, I am focused on bringing projects of regional significance to communities that want to grow in our state,” he said.
Georgia-Pacific has operated in Warren County for 47 years and has done a lot for the area, said Graham. ‘They are creating opportunities and they are building this community one step at a time.” Graham added that he is also excited about what the company is doing in Warren County and the jobs it is creating.
The new softwood production facility sits on the same site as the existing plant, and added more than 80 new employees to Warren County’s workforce roster, including people from the burned Georgia-Pacific plant in Thomson.
“The more than 80 new jobs created at this facility will benefit not only the hardworking Georgians and their families throughout the region but the whole state. I look forward to partnering with Georgia-Pacific in the years ahead to expand the forestry industry in our state and create opportunity for Georgians far and wide.”
Fischer said Georgia is a significant state for operations and has been in operation for 100 years. The company currently employs more than 7,200 people at 15 locations. Those jobs create an additional 21,000 indirect jobs. Since 2013 the company has invested approximately $1.6 billion in additional capital and acquisitions in the state.
He said the Warrenton facility is an investment back into the community. The chief executive said what makes him excited and confident about the investment is the facility’s location, the business friendly nature of the State of Georgia, the friendly community and the innovative and hard working employee base.
According to Mason, each GP plant produces enough lumber to build 20,000 homes a year and added that the Warrenton plant would allow the company to continue to meet customer lumber needs.
“None of this would be possible without the great folk of Warrenton and Warren County who have invested their heart and souls to helping us with this site, ” he said.
Through a video tour of the facility, the audience learned that at the rate of current production, the GP Warrenton facility will receive approximately 200 truckloads of pine logs a day and produce as much as 350 million board-feet of lumber per year. The facility plans to outturn three times the output of the previous facility, shipping 57 trucks of lumber each day to locations and customers across multiple states.
According to Georgia-Pacific, the Warrenton facility follows the start-up of a plant in Talladega, Alabama, and is the second of three new lumber production sites planned by the company. The third facility is under construction in Albany, Georgia, with plans to open next spring.