Louisiana Forestry Production Up Due to Overall Growth of Paper Products (09/13/18)

Louisiana Forestry Production Up Due to Overall Growth of Paper Products (09/13/18)

According to an Aug. 28, 2018 report by KPEL (Lafayette, La., USA) despite the digital revolution reportedly taking reading off the pages of paperbacks and onto the screens of tablet, the Forestry Industry continues to grow in Louisiana, according to a report that says in 2015 it accounted for $13 billion in economic output, and one billion in inflation adjusted state and local taxes.

LSU (Lousiana State University) Ag Center Professor Shaun Tanger said while traditional office paper is down, paper related products are up.

"It’s on the rise, especially in our exports, things like fluff pulp. Toilet paper, tissue paper, things that like, as all of these other countries, especially as other countries like India, grow their middle class."

The report said the forestry industry accounted for $290 million dollars of income through 4,000 jobs, and 30.8 million in state taxes in East Baton Rouge Parish alone. The Forest Economics professor says the industry accounts for roughly 50,000 jobs state wide through direct and indirect employment, and that it’s been on a statewide uptick for nearly a decade.

"Every time I look at these (charts), as we move away from the recession in 2008, 2009, from about 2010 on we see a pretty steady upward trend."

Tanger said the increase in shipping needs from companies like Amazon has also helped buoy the industry, along with a rebounding housing market, but warns that there could be a bump in the road just ahead.

"Were seeing growth in housing, even though it’s slow, it’s steadily moving up. There may be ups and downs, certainly we expect a recession in the next year or two."

According to LSU Agricultural Center’s August 2018 economic breakdown of the industry’s economic impact, the forestry sector created nearly $4.3 billion in economic impact and generated more than 9,000 jobs in northwest Louisiana in a report by the state's Shrieveport Times from Aug. 30.

Forestry is the state’s top-grossing agricultural commodity, with the sector accounting for an annual economic output of approximately $13 billion. While the forestry industry suffered some setbacks in recent years, the sector has rebounded. New orders and exports of wood and paper products were up during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

NLEP, which serves 14 parishes in North Louisiana, has seen an increase in the number of forest products companies considering locating or expanding:

  • Graphic Packaging International invested $274 million to expand and modernize its operations in Ouachita Parish, creating 93 new direct jobs.
  • Weyerhaeuser announced it would build a regional office in Ruston, creating approximately 20 new jobs.
  • Hunt Forest Products based in Ruston will build a $115 million lumber mill in Lasalle parish, creating 110 new direct jobs.
  • Drax Biomass relocated its U.S. corporate headquarters from Atlanta to Monroe in February. It employs 190 workers at its two Louisiana wood pellet manufacturing facilities in Bastrop and Urania and at its shipping operation in the Port of Baton Rouge.

The increased interest from prospective forest products companies and expansions by existing forestry businesses promise additional economic growth for North Louisiana. That’s why NLEP’s comprehensive strategic plan identified forestry as a key sector for North Louisiana to target.

NLEP’s business development program has dedicated resources toward recruiting and supporting forestry companies.