GLENWOOD — Caddo River Forest Products has purchased the former Bean sawmill in Glenwood, Arkansas.
The acquisition process, supported by former property holder Caterpillar, Inc. has allowed Caddo River Forest Products to address environmental issues and obtain operating permits required to move forward with the start-up of the mill.
“The acquisition would not have taken place without the support of Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), West Central Planning and Development District, the City of Glenwood, the Pike County Quorum Court, State Representative Justin Gonzales, and U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman,” said group representative David Henderson.
Caddo River Forest Products has put together the beginnings of an operational team and developed an operating plan to make the mill competitive in today’s market.
A start-up date has not been set, but operations are anticipated to scale up in 2016.
“It’s a very merry Christmas present to us,” said Glenwood Chamber President Chuck Voan. “This is just the best shot in the arm Glenwood has had in a long time.”
Voan added that the project moving forward has been a long time coming.
“There have been a lot of ghost stories, but it is now officially done.”
The long term economic impact upon the Glenwood area and surrounding communities should be evident, according to Voan.
“It will be something Glenwood hasn’t felt in a long time. As far as we know right now, the impact will be significant. What we are really hoping for in a influx of people coming here, and the pay scale is expected to be amongst the best for rival mills. It will be good pay and we will have people coming back.”
Voan estimates that even if production was limited to a single shift, employment numbers could range from 40-80 people.
“I know that it takes quite a bit of employment to operate the mill,” Voan said. From what we gather they are on tentative track to shooting lumber out this spring, so that’s on track. The City of Glenwood is helping out a lot where they can with an attempt to garner grants and bonds.”
Voan also sees a profitable future for the company in the area.
“There is people in this area willing to sell their timber, people out there willing to haul timber in there … there is no reason why they can’t be successful here. The [U.S.] Forest Service is starting to sell off some of their timber, so there is going to be some good timber prices come up, probably.”
Ultimately, he was gracious to Caddo River Forest Products for the opportunity in the area.
“I am just so thankful – I want to thank the company. This is the only company that has stepped up, done what they needed to and went through with buying the mill. We’ve had Hunt Brothers, a couple from out of state, that came in and said we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that. This company has taken the ball, ran with the ball and they’ve kinda slammed dunked it. I am just thrilled,” Voan concluded.