WINONA, Miss. (WCBI) – By January 2022, a brand new, state-of-the-art sawmill is set to open up in the small town of Winona, bringing 150 jobs to Montgomery County.
Winona sits in the Wood Basket of North Mississippi, which is how it was able to attract Biewer Lumber to the area, thanks to help from the Mississippi Development Authority.
“I think that the numbers was there was enough solid timber within 75 miles of this area to last 50 years,” said Ron Wood, president of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
Biewer Lumber built a sawmill in Newton back in 2016. The Michigan-based company says its newest facility will have the ability to produce 350 million feet of lumber each year.
“Always there was certainly a lack of jobs within our county and the surrounding counties,” said Montgomery County director of economic development Sue Stidham. “But that has grown since the COVID.”
Stidham says the community is well-versed in the timber industry already.
“You have your loggers, you have your sawmills they already have in place, which is very important,” she said. “So with the timber owners, the landowners, it’s going to be important for all the citizens of Montgomery County.”
However, the company will need a work force ready to work with computers in addition to saws.”
“We may have to have some junior college students help getting these people ready to do this type of different job than what we’re used to,” Wood said.
Local leaders agree that this opportunity for economic development is exactly what the region needs.
“With a pandemic and all the problems that it has caused, I just thank the Good Lord above for this happening to our community and this county and our area,” said Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers.
Stidham says they are set to break ground on the 300-acre property in early March. Biewer Lumber has invested $130 million into the project and the MDA is contributing both an Industry Incentive grant as well as a CAP loan.