New Business Announces Building Plans

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Loblolly Industries announced Monday it will build a wood processing plant in Meridian, bringing over 100 new jobs.

For Anderson Thomas, this is a day three years in the making, the day he could announce to this part of the world that Scrimtec has arrived.

"It's nice to finally get to the point where we can have this project out in the public eye," said Thomas.

This project will be using a technology called TimTek that uses immature pine trees taken during early harvest, breaks them down and them builds them back into lumber. It's a relatively new market called processed wood.

Local officials say they believe it's a product that could transform the construction industry, in a time when much wood is needed to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina.

"We know there are other products in the marketplace that provide a similar product to the construction industry," said Wade Jones of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation. "But those products do not have the strength, nor are they priced as competitively as Scrimtec will be."

At full capacity, the plant is expected to employ about 140 people in high-tech, relatively high paying jobs. Loblolly officials say they are hopeful they'll be able to expand rather quickly.

"This is not the only plant we intend to build," Thomas said. "We'd like to locate in other places across the southeast and across North America in our region we've secured from TimTek."

Construction on the new plant could begin within the next six months. Thomas says it should take about another year to get it up and operating at full capacity.

Ronnie Musgrove was governor when the Scrimtec project was first advanced. He says education is the key to future similar developments.

"I believe companies want to see our commitment to the future, because just like today's power point, we saw a high tech industry and it's going to take people who are educated and skilled to run that kind of equipment," said Musgrove.

Cong. Chip Pickering compared Meridian to Laurel when the Masonite plant was built there.

"And what Anderson Thomas is doing is the same revolutionary leap of technology that will give us a new way to have a new market, to compete globally, create jobs at home and have a better product, stronger product at lower cost for home construction, business construction and this will define Meridian and Lauderdale County just like Masonite defines Laurel, Miss.," Pickering said.

Commissioner of agriculture, Dr. Lester Spell, said he believes the future of the wood product industry is engineered lumber such as Scrimtec's.

"Excellent opportunity for Mississippi to show the whole nation that we're leaders in revolutionizing the building industry," said Spell.

Lee Youngblood, representing Sen. Trent Lott, said this project will be a plus for every tree grower in the state.

"This is the kind of technology that will give them a market for that timber," said Youngblood. "And utilizing a new process so it's something that could affect Mississippi from the Tennessee line all the way down to the coast, I mean, it's really exciting."