If you could see within walls and floors and below roofs, you would probably see more than a few panels and other structural members made of oriented strand board (OSB). Just as OSB lends strength to a building, OSB manufacturing can lend strength to a community.
One such community, Georgia’s Emanuel County, already produces OSB for residential applications. But it will soon produce more. That’s because Huber Engineered Woods LLC plans to invest more than $200 million in an expansion of its OSB business in Emanuel County. The new plant will provide up to 150 new jobs. It is slated for start-up in 2008 and will have an annual production capacity of more than 650 million square feet once fully operational.
According to Andy Trott, president of Huber Engineered Woods, the company decided to expand its Emanuel County operation in part due to the state and county’s support of the project. Other considerations included proximity to a sustainable wood supply, excellent transportation and services infrastructure, access to customers, and a skilled labor pool.
The company received a $4 million grant, job tax credits, local property abatements, and assistance from Quick Start, the state’s workforce training program. The Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Swainsboro/Emanuel County Joint Development Authorities, and the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education were key partners in the project.
The new jobs are a welcome addition not only to Emanuel but also the surrounding communities. Emanuel qualifies as one of Georgia’s Tier 1 (economically disadvantaged) counties. Several businesses in the county utilize the region’s forests for timber, building products, cabinetry, and turpentine. All these businesses benefit from Emanuel’s proximity to 10 medium-sized and large cities within a 175-mile radius. Interstate 16, the major thoroughfare between the ports of Savannah and the rest of the Southeast, passes through the southern portion of the county, allowing easy access to markets.