Hodge, La. (KTVE/KARD) – Governor John Bel Edwards attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the WestRock Paper Mill, where WestRock announced major investment project coming to Northeast Louisiana.

“WestRock as you know, they have demonstrated on multiple occasions that they are absolutely committed to Jackson Parish and to the state of Louisiana,” said governor John Bel Edwards. “With the investments that they make and the jobs that they create, I would tell you that these long term commitments to Louisiana are very much appreciated here.”

The $97 million investment project for a new and modernized woodyard will bring construction job opportunities for the next few decades.

“The most important, probably, is the economic impact that will benefit landowners around here ,and local parishes where we can buy more trees, and also the long term viability of this facility,” said general manager of the Hodge Louisiana Mill, Erick Tyler.

The new modernized woodyard is currently being built. Tyler says the goal is to use fewer trees to make a ton of paper.

“It’s more of a modernization, so we are taking out an old inefficient operation that was aged to the point of unreliability and installing a new modern chipping facility that can meet the production target that we need,” explained Tyler.

Tyler said their target is to make at least 85 percent of their chips and buy trees from the local basins, which can make an impact to local landowners in Jackson Parish.

“All of that is designed and ready. We ordered the equipment and we are ready to go,” said Tyler.

The opening of the new facility for phase one is schedule for August 31st, 2023.