A long-term effort to bring new jobs and industry to Alcorn County has paid off with the announcement of a $160 million investment which will create 130 jobs and provide additional economic and employment opportunities for forest products firms and workers based in North Mississippi.

The Alliance made the decision in 2013 to purchase the land that would become the RailHub Industrial Park, with the goal of bringing quality jobs and capital investment to Alcorn County.

Mission Forest Products made that goal reality in 2020 by deciding to become the first tenant in the park. With their decision, they are bringing 130 new jobs with an average pay of $55,000 and an estimated $160 million investment with them.

Mission Forest Products will operate a pine sawmill on the RailHub North Site, which is just off the Kimberly-Clark Parkway. Construction of their plant will begin in 2021 with production beginning in 2022.

“This is a proud day for Alcorn County as we welcome Mission Forest Products to the RailHub Industrial Park,” said Lowell Hinton, president of the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors. “Their decision to locate here, bringing such a major investment and creating 130 great jobs, shows their belief in our community and our talented workforce. This economic development win is a direct result of years of hard work in which many people have contributed. We celebrate this great achievement, and now we begin what we believe will be a longstanding partnership with this industry.”

Clayton Stanley, President of The Alliance said, “This is a major win for our community, region and state. We are thrilled to welcome Mission Forest Products to Alcorn County and thankful for their commitment to a $160 million capital investment and creation of 130 high paying careers.”

In addition to the traditional economic development metrics of quality jobs and capital investment, this project has a component from which many others in the community will benefit. “This is a great win for local timber owners, loggers and those in the trucking business,” Stanley added. “They will spend millions of dollars a year buying pine trees. Their suppliers are landowners large and small from this county and it creates a much better market for pine trees than we’ve had.”

Mission Forest Products will be capable of producing 250 million board feet of lumber annually. The state-of-the-art pine sawmill will be financed through capital provided by investors that TIR represents.

“Our objective is for this mill to become one of the lowest-cost and most reliable suppliers of high-quality dimensional lumber products in North America,” said TIR Managing Director Christopher Mathis. “We intend to do this by capitalizing on three things – the abundance of high-quality timber in the area, Corinth’s proximity to the growing housing markets of the U.S. South and lower Midwest and the low-cost, high-efficiency nature of the mill’s design. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from Governor Reeves and the Mississippi Development Authority; The Alliance of Corinth, including President Clayton Stanley; the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors; the City of Corinth and the Tennessee Valley Authority. We look forward to building a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the people of Corinth and Alcorn County.”

Mississippi State University Extension Agent Patrick Poindexter said the new buyer for local timber will be a tremendous benefit to the county. The market drastically decreased after the closure of International Paper’s plant in Courtland, Alabama in 2015. “After the closure, local producers saw significant decreases in prices paid for pine pulpwood and some in saw logs for the past several years. Since that time, many smaller producers have been leaving some stands un-thinned due to low demand and depressed prices.”

According to MSU Extension and the Mississippi Forestry Association, forestry and the forest products industry generates more than $125 million per year, or about 4.2 percent of economic output in Alcorn County, which has more than 142,000 acres of land in forest.

Although this site is located outside the Corinth city limits, Corinth Mayor Tommy Irwin sees a major impact coming to the city. “The City of Corinth is excited to welcome Mission Forest Products to Alcorn County. The 130 new, high paying jobs in our community will make a major positive impact on our local economy,” said Irwin. “Their $160 million investment speaks volumes that they believe they can, and will, be successful here. Additionally, our local timber owners will benefit greatly by being able to sell timber to this new industry. We’re thankful for the belief Mission Forest Products has in us, and we look forward to working with them to ensure their long tenured success.”

The Alliance and local officials have been recruiting the company since May of 2019, operating under the code name “Project Bulldog”. Alcorn County had to compete with sites in surrounding states and Stanley credits the win to the team effort.

“Winning an economic development project like this takes a team effort. This project wouldn’t have been possible from the start without the numerous annual donors to The Alliance’s Industrial Land Fund,” said Stanley. “We’re grateful that so many businesses and individuals throughout this community have very faithfully given to the land fund, which allowed The Alliance to own the property that led to this win.”

“The Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, Mississippi Development Authority, Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, City of Corinth, ACE Power Association, Corinth Gas & Water, Farmington Water Association and many others stepped up in a big way during the recruitment process. It took everyone working together to win the deal, and we are grateful for all the hard work that went into recruiting this project to Alcorn County,” said Stanley.

“Agriculture is Mississippi’s top economic driver, and our abundance of forestland – nearly 20 million acres statewide – provides tremendous opportunities for economic growth and job creation in this vital sector,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “I am honored to welcome Mission Forest Products to our state and look forward to the economic ripple effect the opening of this state-of-the-art sawmill will have on the 130 workers and their families, the local economy of Alcorn County, and all of Mississippi.”

“I believe that it is not government’s place to create jobs. Instead, I believe the government should create an environment that is conducive to the private sector creating jobs, and it is this mindset that I have always used when voting in Jackson. Every vote I’ve made has been one to aid and help in creating an environment so that Mississippians can be successful. Though these votes have been difficult, and sometimes unpopular, I always made them with eyes toward growth,” said State Rep. Nick Bain. “That’s why this industry, Mission Forest Products, is so important. It is the result of a lot of hard work and sleepless nights by so many people. I truly feel we have moved the needle in Corinth and Alcorn County, and the future is bright.”

“Good paying jobs are the lifeblood of any community. We are grateful that Mission Forest Products chose Alcorn County for this venture. We are excited to begin this journey together,” said State Senator Rita Parks. “Some doubted that we could accomplish all we have, but with the dedication, cooperation and commitment of our state and local leadership, Mission Forest Products is becoming a job-creating reality in our community. It is gratifying to see the labors of our economic development vision come to fruition with this partnership.”

The RailHub North site, where Mission Forest Products will be located, is a 145-acre site that is bordered on the south end by Norfolk Southern railroad’s main line. The property is adjacent to the RailHub South site, which is a rare “dual-rail” industrial site that has undergone substantial site development work over the last few years. The south site is also benefitting from Project Bulldog, as utility lines are being extended to serve the industrial park, and will continue to be aggressively marketed to prospective industries and site selectors.

“The decision by Timberland Investment Resources to locate a state-of-the-art sawmill in Corinth demonstrates to companies here and around the world that Mississippi has robust natural resources that allow for the growth and long-term success of companies in the agribusiness industry,” said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville. “The addition of 130 new jobs in particular is paramount to rebuilding our state’s economy and communities during these challenging times. We appreciate our partnerships with The Alliance, Alcorn County, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which were critical to bringing these new opportunities to the citizens of North Mississippi.”

“TVA and Alcorn County Electric Power congratulate Mission Forest Products on its decision to locate operations and create new job opportunities and investment in Corinth,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley. “Helping to support job creation and investment is fundamental to TVA’s mission of service to the people of the Valley, and we are proud to partner with The Alliance, Alcorn County, the City of Corinth and the Mississippi Development Authority to further that mission and celebrate this announcement in Mississippi.”

“ARC congratulates Alcorn County for their success on Project Bulldog. We thank Governor Tate Reeves and Anne Hall Brashier, Deputy Policy Director, for their approval of using ARC funds on this project. We’re very grateful to our congressional delegation for their support of ARC. This is a job well done by the Mississippi Development Authority, ARC Washington, The Alliance, Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, local leadership, among many others, and ARC is proud to support this project,” said Mike Armour and Andrea Rose with the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Mississippi Office.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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