Live Oak —
By Dennis Cason
President of the Suwannee County Economic Alliance
With the press release from the Office of the Governor on Jan. 25 announcing construction of the Klausner Lumber One sawmill in Suwannee County, opportunities for great improvements in our county economy are on the horizon. In the press release, several of us were quoted as saying that the new facility will bring an economic impact that will be felt throughout North Central Florida and beyond. That was no exaggeration. For some, the opportunities are now.
Since beginning the clearing, grading and compacting of the land designated for Klausner at our catalyst site, the contracting company from Jacksonville has put over 50 local people to work. The clearing and grubbing on a second piece of land was done by a local contractor meaning that company was able to keep their employees working.
It has been projected that 734 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase of this new facility. This estimate was part of an economic impact analysis of the Klausner state-of-the-art sawmill prepared by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Labor Market Statistics Center. The economic modeling software, IMPLAN, was used to complete the study measuring the economic impact over a five-county region. In the construction phase the actual workers needed to complete the construction (the direct jobs) are estimated at 513. New jobs will also be created in industries that are suppliers to these construction companies (the indirect jobs). The number of these indirect jobs is estimated to be 75. Finally, the spending that will be done by those hired in the direct and indirect jobs will create a need for an additional 146 jobs in the community (the induced jobs). Of course, all of these construction effects are temporary and continue only as long as construction continues.
The Economic Impact Study goes on to estimate job creation when the sawmill is in operation. Within three years, the number of jobs created at the plant will be 350. These 350 jobs in the sawmill are the direct jobs. But those people can’t do their job without raw material. An estimated 415 jobs will be created in the supplier industry. These indirect jobs will include truck drivers as well as those who work at getting the trees harvested; all who are involved in silviculture. Finally the spending of those in the direct and indirect jobs will create the need for an estimated 175 induced jobs in the community. The total, then, of direct, indirect and induced jobs in the operation phase is 940.
The Economic Impact Study also gives projected figures for income gain through wages, the increase in gross domestic product, and output. We’ll go into those figures at another time.
Employee recruiting and training opportunities for Klausner will be provided through North Florida Workforce that is headquartered in Madison and operates a satellite office in Live Oak at 815 N. Ohio Ave. Mobile unit locations are also available in Jasper, Perry and Monticello. When the schedule for recruiting employees has been set, that announcement will come from the Workforce office. If you are interested in applying but are not registered with Workforce, registering would be a step you could take right now.
I am continuing to collect information from product or service companies who are interested in working with Klausner. You may contact me by mail at Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce P.O. Drawer C Live Oak, FL 32064, by email at email@example.com or stop by the Chamber of Commerce office in Historic City Hall at 212 N. Ohio Ave. and hand deliver your information.
The Klausner project has been on the mind of many people for two years but it is not the only thing happening. We continue to receive inquiries from companies that are interested in our catalyst site. Some want to be there to use Klausner’s by-products in their industry. Others are interested because of the great location near the I-10 and US 90 interchange and CSX rail.
While our catalyst site is important and we are fortunate to have the Suwannee County site chosen for this designation, we have many additional areas available for varied types of development that will improve our economy. These of course include greenfield sites at our other interchanges, our US 129 North corridor and downtown Live Oak. We cannot leave out the potential in Branford, Wellborn and our other communities. It needs to be emphasized that in any development of Suwannee County, we must keep our authenticity and rural integrity.
The groups that make up the Economic Alliance (The Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce, The Council for Progress, The Development Authority and the Tourist Development Council) are all actively working in cooperation with each other to support economic development. Each group participates in a different way but with the same goal in mind: the betterment of Suwannee County. If you have ideas or suggestions, come and get involved.
Another topic that is extremely important is keeping and growing the businesses and industries that we already have. We will talk about those opportunities in an upcoming article.
Let’s GROW Suwannee!