A pair of economic expansion projects in Dothan will inject a total of $92 million into the Wiregrass economy.
SmartLam North America, which manufactures cross-laminated timber products at a plant in Dothan, announced that it will invest $62 million to build a new manufacturing plant to produce large beams and columns for construction, creating 43 jobs.
Peak Renewables also announced that it will build a $30 million wood pellet plant in Dothan, which will use sawmill residues to make pellets used in renewable energy generation. The project will create 26 jobs.
The SmartLam expansion is expected to be operational in 2024, while the Peak Renewable wood pellet plant is expected to open next year.
Overall, it was a big week for the region economically. On Wednesday, Gateway Tire announced it was expanding its Dothan distribution center, investing $9 million in a 100,000 square foot addition to its warehouse. The company plans to hire another 30 workers.
Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said the projects “will inject additional vigor and innovation into this critical sector”.
“The forest products industry has long been a central pillar of Alabama’s economy, and its vitality is attracting significant levels of new investment and driving job growth across the state,” Canfield said. .
SmartLam North America CEO Derek Ratchford said the company will build a 140,000 square foot custom manufacturing facility with the capacity to produce 84 million board feet per year. It will also add equipment to fully automate its existing 225,000 square foot plant to produce 2 million cubic feet of cross-laminated timber per year.
The expansion will allow SmartLam to purchase high-strength lumber from landowners in central and southern Alabama. SmartLam is the first and largest manufacturer using southern yellow pine to produce CLT, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Most solid wood glulam/columns are produced by hand,” Ratchford said. “The new plant will be automated, which will allow SmartLam to significantly increase production and simultaneously complete multiple solid wood projects.”
Peak Renewables CEO Scott Bax said his company’s growth project will utilize 30 acres and be a 24/7/365 operation.
It is one of several projects in Alabama aimed at turning waste wood into wood pellets for the energy industry.
“This facility and investment will further strengthen the overall forest economy and bring a world-class wood fiber logging facility to the Dothan region producing 180,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year,” Bax said.