State luring wood product plant to Northern MN

(PHOTO: Stewart Black, Flickr CC)

(PHOTO: Stewart Black, Flickr CC)

A large publicly-traded company that makes wood siding is considering building a new plant in Northern Minnesota.

According to reports from Minnesota Public Radio and the Associated Press, the plant would employ about 250 people. The company is considering sites near Hoyt Lakes, Cook and Grand Rapids, as well as sites in other states.

From Brian Bakst at MPR:

Lawmakers say they need to move quickly on a subsidy package or risk losing the plant.

The DFL Senate’s budget plan authorizes annual payments of up to $3 million a year based on the square footage of siding produced starting in 2017. The payments would phase out in 2035. It’s a structure similar to what Minnesota ethanol producers received in the industry’s early days.

Lawmakers are also considering a sales tax exemption for materials used in building the plant. And there’s a bill to revise, replenish and rename what has been called the 21st Century Minerals Fund so processing plants like the one envisioned could qualify for awards.

“I know that Michigan is vying for the company as well as Canada,” said state Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. “By making the money available now … for the infrastructure that it would be used for, it’s sending a potential signal for economic development.”

The name of the company is unconfirmed, at least officially. You often see this sort of cloak-and-dagger stuff at a city council or economic development authority meeting. The degree of state involvement — both legislatively and at the IRRRB level — and the lack of specifics do seem a bit odd, however.

All we know is that we’re talking about making wood siding and creating 250 jobs, to the tune of $3 million a year until 2035, plus other incentives.

State timber producers, however, have been cool to the legislation. They want to know that there’s enough timber in the region to supply the plant without pricing themselves out of other markets.

Hoyt Lakes Mayor Mark Skelton told Bakst that despite the concerns, getting the plant would be good for the region’s sagging morale.


  1. Independant says

    Folks in the timber industry have told me very recently that timber utilization is so low that it is costing the forest service significantly more money per year in forest fire prevention than ever before. With multiple Potlatch facilities shutting down in the last ten years and paper mills doing less volume than ever, I wouldn’t think we would have a lack of feed stock for multiple new facilities utilizing our abundant renewable timber resources.

  2. Jesse Bearheart says

    The old Potlatch plant on Hwy. 53 south of Cook is available. The plant was once a major producer of chip board and a thriving business. To my knowledge, it is available and many in our area are ready to go to work!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.