Biggest project in Henry County history complete

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HEADLAND, Ala. (WTVY) -- The biggest project in Henry County's history is open.

(Source: WTVY)

It’s bringing dozens of jobs and community growth.

The governor, local leaders, and employees gathered Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of the fiber sawmill.

Sixty-five new workers will punch the time clock at the new facility Wednesday, and Abbeville Fiber prides itself on being local.

Its only customer is hometown entrepreneur Jimmy Rane the owner of Great Southern Wood Preserving.
He says it's more than just a sawmill.

Abbeville Fiber is building better lives and a prosperous community.

“Well more folks got a job. More folks can shop. More folks can move here and earn a living. It's just good for the economic growth of the area,” says Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.

The sawmill will provide timber for Great Southern locations in Alabama and 27 other states.

It’s a source of pride for Jimmy Rane.

“It deserves as much support and development as any community in this state and as long as I am living I intend to see that it is here,” says Rane.

The sawmill employs 65 people right now, but within the next year, 115 people will have jobs here.

“Anytime you give even one person a good quality job that helps them and their family,” says U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne.

It has even more impact in rural areas.

“It lifts Alabama up. It moves Alabama forward. It is even more important to have them here in these rural areas,” says Byrne.

Wood is big business in Alabama.

When you look at just the timber industry in Alabama its 10% of our GDP, and it's just a growing industry. This is going to be huge,” says Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth

That's why the state is focusing on getting people "job-ready".

“We're going to make sure that no matter what you want to do in the state, we're going to get you trained and educated for that job,” says Ainsworth.

An egg processing factory sat on the site then last year it shut down.

“People hate to see a plant close down but fortunately this one opened up just after that one closed down. So that worked out good for a lot of people,” says Jeff Branton a sawmill employee.

The mill has the latest technology.

About $15 million worth of timber will come from suppliers within a 50-mile radius of the plant.

Abbeville Fiber is off US Highway 431 and Alabama Highway 27 in Henry County.

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