PLAIN DEALING, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards joined local leaders in Plain Dealing Monday morning for the groundbreaking of a new sawmill that promises to bring hundreds of jobs to northwest Louisiana.

The ceremony marked the start of a $110 million construction project to build the Teal Jones Sawmill off Hwy 3 near Rocky Mount Road.

According to the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) and Louisiana Economic Development, the new Southern yellow pine lumber plant will support the creation of nearly 500 new direct and indirect jobs in Northwest Louisiana, including 125 new direct jobs, with average annual salaries of $47,000, plus benefits. LED estimates the project will also support at least 369 indirect jobs, for a total of 494 prospective new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest region.

Teal Jones Group, a privately held Canadian forestry products company based in British Columbia, initially proposed Plain Dealing as the site—favored by the company for its easy access to railway infrastructure—for the 235-acre sawmill facility in December 2021.

“Louisiana’s wealth of timber resources has made it a prime destination for lumber and sawmill business operations for many years,” Gov. Edwards said in a statement released following the ceremony. “We’re gratified that Teal Jones has chosen to become a part of that long tradition. This project will stimulate economic activity, create good jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest region and contribute to the revitalization of our state’s rural communities. It is a powerful reaffirmation of the important role our state’s agribusiness sector plays in the growth and diversification of Louisiana’s economy.”

The sawmill will produce a wide range of products, including residual fiber products, like chips and sawdust, to local pulp and pellet plants.

“Plain Dealing is honored to have a new employer locate here. Both our community and the surrounding towns welcome Teal Jones to our home,” said Plain Dealing Mayor Shavonda Gay. “Plain Dealing is committed to helping find qualified employees for Teal Jones. We want Teal Jones to succeed in producing superior product for the marketplace. We thank the State, Bossier Parish and its related government, and Teal-Jones and its investors for choosing our area for this sawmill.”

The sawmill is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

The Teal Jones Group bought sawmills in Antlers, Oklahoma; Kinsale and Martinsville, Virginia; and Liberty, Mississippi, between 2013 and 2021, but this will be the first it has built in the United States, a spokesman told the Associated Press Monday.

Louisiana offered incentives including its Quality Jobs program, which provides up to a 6% rebate on annual payroll for up to 10 years. It also allows either a state tax rebate on capital expense or a 1.5% project facility expense rebate for qualifying expenses. Teal Jones also is expected to ask for local tax breaks.