Houston County officials say infrastructure improvements will allow two growing businesses to make new capital investments totaling a combined $92 million in Dothan as part of projects that will create at least 70 jobs and provide a boost to the region’s forestry industry.
SmartLam North America, a maker of cross laminated timber (CLT) products at a factory in Dothan, will invest $62 million to build a new glulam manufacturing facility that will produce large beams and columns for the construction industry. The project will create 43 jobs.
Meanwhile, Peak Renewables will build a wood pellet production facility that will utilize sawmill residuals to make pellets used in renewable power generation. The $30 million project will generate 26 jobs at the facility in Dothan.
“The forest products industry has long been a central pillar for Alabama’s economy, and its vitality is attracting significant levels of new investment and driving job growth across the state,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“These new investment projects in Dothan will inject additional vigor and innovation into this critical sector.”
The Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce said the combined projects represent one of the largest industrial investments in the history of Southeast Alabama’s Wiregrass region. It expects the SmartLam expansion to become operational in 2024 and the Peak Renewable wood pellet plant to open in 2023.
“There are a lot of moving parts to support these developments, and we cannot thank our state, city, county and Chamber team enough for their work and support,” Chamber Chairman Brad Kimbro said.
“We have a lot of infrastructure support needed to ready these developments for their operations to meet Peak Renewables and SmartLam’s needs, so we will be on it,” he added.
The project will involve the construction of a new industrial access road, as well as water and electric utility improvements. Through partnerships with the Alabama Department of Transportation, Houston County and the City of Dothan, a new access road will be built to serve the new industrial sites.
In addition, Dothan Utilities will provide water extensions and electric utility service.
SmartLam North America CEO Derek Ratchford said the investment will allow the company to construct a state-of-the-art, 140,000-square-foot custom glulam manufacturing plant with the capacity to produce 84 million board feet annually.
SmartLam will also add equipment to fully automate its existing 225,000-square-foot plant to produce 2 million cubic feet of CLT annually.
“Most mass timber glulam/columns are manually produced. The new plant will be automated allowing SmartLam to significantly increase production and simultaneously deliver multiple mass timber projects,” Ratchford said.
“We are strategically located in Alabama to serve the Southeast, the fastest growing mass timber market in the United States. We are currently the largest CLT manufacturer in North America and with the glulam addition, SmartLam will become the largest mass timber (glulam/CLT) producer in North America,” he added.
The expansion will allow SmartLam to purchase high-strength timber from landowners throughout Central and Southern Alabama. SmartLam is the first and largest manufacturer using Southern Yellow Pine to produce CLT.
Peak Renewables CEO Scott Bax said his company’s growth project will utilize 30 acres and include new rail spurs in collaboration with Genessee and Wyoming Railroad. The wood pellet facility will be a 24/7, 365-day operation.
“This facility and the investment will further strengthen the overall forestry economy and bring a world-class wood fiber operating facility to the Dothan area, producing 180,000 MT of wood pellets annually,” Bax said.
Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba and Houston County Chairman-Elect Brandon Shoupe said the projects will enhance the area’s forestry industry and generate additional jobs through economic ripple effects.
“We are proud and very appreciative of our partnership with SmartLam North America and welcome our new corporate partner Peak Renewables,” they said in a joint statement.
“Both companies represent a significant impact to continue the building and developing of Southeast Alabama as a center for excellence for forestry product manufacturing and innovation,” they added.
Ratchford praised the state and local agencies and community partners that made his company’s project possible.
“This group is focused on helping us position for future growth,” he said.
(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)