One of the largest industrial investments in the history of the southeast Alabama region is taking place in Houston County. A combined $92 million investment will come from SmartLam North America – Dothan and Peak Renewables.
Houston County District 3 Commissioner Ricky Herring said the projects would initially create 70 jobs, with more expected. He added that the two projects would profoundly impact the state.
"The city of Dothan is a bigger part of this than the Houston County Commission," said Herring. "But we all work hand-in-hand together with our state delegation to try to bring industry in and create jobs that are sustainable for our families and to create sustainable revenue for the Wiregrass area … it took all of us together to make something happen."
SmartLam North America
SmartLam North America will build a new facility in Dothan to manufacture large glulam beams and columns for the timber market.
"We are pleased to announce the new state-of-the-art custom glulam manufacturing plant, which will be the largest custom glulam plant in North America," said SmartLam North America CEO Derek Ratchford.
The company is already the largest manufacturer of Southern Yellow Pine cross-laminated timber (CLT) and already has a 225,000-square-foot facility in Dothan.
Ratchford said the southeast has the fastest-growing mass timber market in the U.S.
"Most mass timber glulam beams and columns are manually produced," said Ratchford. "The new glulam plant will be automated, allowing SmartLam to significantly increase production and simultaneously deliver multiple mass timber projects. We are currently the largest CLT manufacturer in North America, and with the CLT automation upgrades and the new glulam addition, SmartLam will become the largest mass timber producer in North America."
The new $50 million facility is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2024. SmartLam is also spending an additional $24 million to fully automate the existing Dothan and Columbia Falls, Montana CLT facilities.
Peak Renewables, a producer of innovative wood products, will build a new wood pellet production facility. The $30 million project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2023.
Herring said Houston County has been growing in population, which is a good example of why county and city leaders are working to bring in more business.
"We know that if it's creating jobs and opportunities for the families, it will create more opportunities down the road for our children, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That's just our mentality down here; it's better for our families, it's better for our county, it's better for our region."
Herring said he was pleased to hear these announcements just a week after another company, Gateway Tire Southeast LLC announced it will expand its Dothan plant by 100,000 square feet. He added that the investment is worth $9 million and will create another 30 jobs.
"Down here is the Bible Belt, and people around here are about helping families and creating opportunities for each other and loving on each other," Herring said. "People are unique here in the way that they are caring and enjoy being around each other."
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