Governor Rick Scott today announced the construction in Suwannee County of the Klausner Lumber One sawmill, a high-tech facility that will create 350 permanent jobs and inject $130 million in capital over three years. Construction on the site will require 700 additional positions.
Governor Rick Scott said, “In addition to creating hundreds of employment opportunities for Florida’s families and further growing the state’s economy, the construction of this facility represents true partnerships between many different local and statewide organizations. Their efforts will create 350 new jobs for Florida families in this community. We welcome Klausner Lumber One to our state.”
Friedrich Klausner of Klausner Lumber One said, “This project has been a huge undertaking with many challenges that we have been able to work through with Suwannee County. But this is inevitable with a project of this size. The significant impact on this region has made it all worthwhile! We are pleased to be here and will be good corporate citizens in this community.”
State Representative Elizabeth W. Porter said, “I am positively thrilled that Suwannee County can now count Klausner Lumber One among one of its newest businesses. I wish to congratulate the civic, business and community leaders who have put so much time and effort into bringing this venture to Suwannee County. It is a testament to their hard work and dedication to improving the opportunities for their residents and their communities. I also wish to thank Governor Scott, the Department of Economic Opportunity, Enterprise Florida and the Institute of Government at FSU, as well as all the other state agencies and organizations involved for their assistance in making this endeavor become a reality. This new enterprise will mean jobs and benefits for the people of the area in a time when jobs are what is needed most. I am optimistic that this will only be the first of many exciting announcements about new jobs and industry coming to our area to locate in one of our catalyst sites in Suwannee and Columbia counties, and I look forward to continuing to do my part to assist in that process.”
At its new Florida site, Klausner will work primarily with southern yellow pine. Dennis Music, owner and president of Music Construction, Inc., understands the impact yellow pine usage will have on the area.
Dennis Music said, “Klausner’s choice of materials will greatly benefit the local pine tree market. This will help create the need for people to re-plant the area, which has been on the decline in recent years. I know a lot of timber cutters and they’re all really excited to see this happen. Their livelihoods depend on competition and this will be great for business. Additionally, the Klausner business model is international so that means they’re bringing in export dollars as well as domestic sales. The new mill will be a big economic engine for our entire region.”
Commission Chairman Wesley Wainwright said, “This is a great day for Suwannee County and the region. The impact will not only be felt here in Suwannee County but will have a significant economic effect in many other North Florida Economic Development Partnership (NFEDP) counties. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Klausner officials. These folks are truly world-class professionals.”
Aside from Board of County Commissioners, other organizational partners in the project included Enterprise Florida; Suwannee County Economic Alliance; Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University; North Florida Economic Development Partnership; and the state departments of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Environmental Protection (DEP), and Transportation (FDOT). In total, 14 counties in the North Central Florida region supported the project.
Wainwright added, “Without the ongoing technical assistance provided by Diane Scholz of the Florida Institute of Government and the North Florida Economic Development Partnership, Inc., this project would not have succeeded. The coordination between the county and the company, and the successful collaboration with state agencies, company officials and engineers, and the local economic development official, Dennis Cason, were unprecedented.”
The construction industry in and around Suwannee County will be among the first to see the competitive impact of a new sawmill, and Jimmy Norris, president and owner of Southern Heritage Builders, Inc., is encouraged by Klausner’s move.
“We use Klausner lumber on as many buildings and homes as we can,” said Norris. “Before we had any association with the company or knew they were considering moving here, we asked a supplier to bring in Klausner lumber because the quality is better than other products we’ve used. I was 100 percent sold on their product before seeing their operation, which is incredible. I’ve been around sawmills all my life and I’ve never seen an operation that is so state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly and pristine.”
News of Klausner’s move to the area has been welcomed by more than just those in the lumber and building industries. Longtime residents of the area understand the impact this new business will have on the regional economy.
“We’re excited about Klausner Lumber coming to the area,” said Coy Howell, manager of North Florida Printing Company, Inc. “I was born and raised here and my family’s printing business has been here since 1967. We’re always looking for new businesses to come here and energize the area. New business means getting the local economy going, not only in our town and county, but the entire region. We’re thankful to be in operation 46 years later but a lot of people around here need jobs and it’s great to see the economy growing. I believe a lot of people will be cheering when they see this announcement.”
Cason, president of the Suwannee County Economic Alliance, points out that the new facility will bring a wealth of opportunities to an area of the state in need of job creation. “The economic impact will be felt throughout all of North Central Florida and beyond. Our entire region is excited about their decision to locate at the Suwannee County catalyst site.”
A catalyst site is an area within a rural community targeted for high value-added jobs, capital investment and economic growth. The site in unincorporated Suwannee has that designation.
“The North Florida Economic Development Partnership (NFEDP) is very excited about the project announced for Suwannee County, this being the first development on a catalyst site in our region. The direct and indirect jobs will provide a vital shot in the arm to this area, as we still have 10-11 percent unemployment,” said Allen Cherry, chair of the North Florida Economic Development Council. “Along with the direct jobs, this project will also be a huge boost to the timber industry in Suwannee and the surrounding counties. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Governor’s Office, Suwannee County, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the Department of Economic Opportunity and the staff of the NFEDP in making this regional project a reality.
The Klausner family’s first sawmill was founded near Kitzbuehl, Austria in 1918. Since then, their mills have become known as the most productive in the world. Klausner operates two in Germany, which have been exporting to the United States since 1997.
In the early 1900s, Suwannee County was home to the two largest sawmills in Florida.
“A century later, history repeats itself with Klausner and the potential for the largest sawmill in North America,” Cason said.