New industry, new jobs coming to Abbeville

New business breathes life into old Abbeville plant

ABBEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Henry County and the city of Abbeville are moving forward on a major economic development project for the area.

Great Southern Wood is opening a new southern yellow pine sawmill plant into the old West Point Pepperell building. It will be called Abbeville Fiber.

“We will source logs, cut those logs into lumber - 2x4s, 4x4s, 4x6s,” said Keith Rane, Senior Project Manager for Great Southern and Abbeville Fiber. “Ship it to our plants to treat.”

Abbeville Fiber will have the capacity to produce a little over 2,200 truck loads of lumber a year.

Great Southern Wood is making an initial investment of roughly 38 to 40 million dollars in the community with this new company and it has the potential to expand.

“It’s kind of like a big fixer upper project and taking an existing facility like this that has so much potential and doing something with it,” said Rane, "Converting it into something that we think is really going to help the community and provide jobs and help the company as well."

According to Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms, the first phase of the new plant could bring anywhere from 75 - 100 new jobs. Jobs needed as the area works to bounce back after the closure of the West Point Pepperell plant that wiped out over 1,000 jobs and the upcoming closure of the Rembrandt Facility.

“Thank goodness that they are hiring. Some of the ones at the Rembrandt - the company next to it that’s closing - my understanding is that they have already hired some of those workers,” said Mayor Billy Helms, “West Point Stevens came in the late 50′s and stayed here all this time and this is going to be even better.”

Mayor Helms says the opening of the new sawmill is a collaboration with partners across the region and he believes will benefit Abbeville and the surrounding areas.

As part of the new development project - the city is working to add railroad tracks near the plant that will be used for transporting goods. Estimated costs are between 800,000 to 1 million dollars.

Abbeville Fiber is expected to open in mid to late summer.

“I think it’ll be the stimulus Abbeville has needed and wanted for a long time,” said Mayor Helms.

According to the company’s job posting, they are looking for machine operators, dry kiln forklift operators, and log loaders. Wages range from $12.00 - $18.00 per hour.

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