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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Rambler Wood Products will invest $7.6 million in the Town of Saint Paul to establish a new, value-added wood products manufacturing facility in the former Bush Furniture Industries building, creating 73 new high-wage jobs. The nearly 300,000-square-foot facility will make Rambler Wood Products the first business of its kind to operate entirely indoors, allowing for full-capacity production year-round. Through this project, the company is committing to source at least 55 percent of its timber from the Commonwealth, supporting regional loggers and forestland owners through the purchase of $22.3 million in Virginia-grown hardwoods over the next three years.
“As Virginia’s third largest private sector industry, forestry supports thousands of quality jobs in our rural communities and contributes $21 million in economic impact each year,” said Governor Northam. “We continue to prioritize bringing high-paying jobs and capital investment to all corners of our Commonwealth while supporting working landscapes, and I am thankful to Rambler Wood Products for helping to create economic opportunity in Russell County.”
Rambler will convert high-quality white oak into barrel staves for the West Virginia Great Barrel Company and other cooperages in the region. The facility will also use Red Oak and lower value hardwoods to produce dimensional lumber for sale to flooring manufacturers, pallet production, and for use in the mining industry. The wood residuals will be sold to paper companies or further manufactured into biomass products. The remaining wood chips and saw dust will be sold to paper manufactures or made into wood pellets. By being able to purchase all the tree species from a timber tract, Rambler is establishing a valuable new market for Virginia loggers and landowners that facilitates sustainable forest management in the region and helps to maintain Virginia’s vibrant hardwood forests.
“Companies like Rambler Wood Products provide important markets that help landowners across the Commonwealth sustain over 16 million acres of forestland,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “These markets will help ensure that Virginia’s hardwood forests, which cover 78 percent of the Commonwealth and account for nearly half of the timber income produced in the state, are well managed with an eye to the future.”
“Rambler Wood Products’ unique, state-of-the art production facility will have a hugely positive impact on the Town of Saint Paul, Russell County, and Southwest Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company’s commitment to creating 73 high-paying jobs and sourcing local timber will be a significant economic boost to the region, and we thank Rambler Wood for rehabilitating a shuttered facility and putting Virginians to work.”
“Rambler Wood Products is proud to announce that Saint Paul, Virginia will be the home of our new state-of-the-art manufacturing operations,” said Rambler Wood Products Founder Mark Wadams. “Employees will be the driving force behind our success and we will offer high-quality, good paying jobs to local residents. In addition to contributing to the economic rejuvenation of the region, we are committed to being thoughtful stewards of the region’s natural resources by implementing sustainable practices and a ‘waste nothing’ philosophy throughout our operations.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with Russell County, the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Governor Northam approved a $300,000 grant from the AFID Fund to secure the project for Virginia, which Russell County will match with local funds. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
“I am thrilled to welcome Rambler Wood Products to Russell County and look forward to a long partnership in support of Virginia forestry, one of our largest industries,” said Russell County Industrial Development Authority Chairman Ernie McFaddin. “Rambler’s commitment to our community will provide a significant boost in our local economy and is a tribute to our hardworking residents.”
“On behalf of the VCEDA, we would like to welcome Rambler Wood Products to Southwest Virginia’s and the jobs and investment that it will create,” said VCEDA Executive Director and General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “VCEDA worked with the Russell County IDA to land the project and provided a $2.5 million loan to the IDA to acquire the facility for the project.”
“Rambler Wood Products’ decision to locate in Saint Paul is a major win for Southwest Virginia,” said Delegate William Wampler. “We hope to build off of this success and continue to provide our residents with more job opportunities like this. The collaborative approach taken to attract Rambler Wood Products shows that when we work together, Virginia can prosper even during this difficult economic period.”
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