Biewer Lumber, headquartered in St. Clair, Mich., recently announced its plan to develop a state-of-the-art sawmill in Winona. The mill will be more than a $130 million investment and will bring more than 150 new jobs to Montgomery County.
The mill will be constructed on approximately 300 acres on the east side of Highway 51 at the intersection of Sawyer Road, approximately a quarter mile north of the Crossroads Industrial Park, and it abuts the RAILUSA’s north-south line.
Biewer Lumber is a family owned company that operates five sawmills -- two in Michigan, two in Wisconsin, and one in Newton.
“My family’s passion for the lumber industry has prompted this expansion in the South,” stated Tim Biewer, president and CEO of the company, in a release. “There is no better place to grow the business than the fiber-rich state of Mississippi.”
The facility in Newton was built in 2016 and was further expanded in 2019, increasing its mill production by 100 million board feet per year and creating 45 additional jobs. The sawmill now employs 175 people, operates two saw lines, and produces 350 million board feet per year.
Like its Newton counterpart, the sawmill in Winona will have the ability to produce 350 million board feet of lumber per year.
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors purchased the property for $600,000 in October 2020 with the purpose of development recruitment.
Supervisor Ron Wood, president of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, said Biewer Lumber contacted the county shortly after the property was listed on the Mississippi Development Authority’s website about the possibility of constructing a sawmill. From there, things moved along quickly.
Wood said the sawmill is estimated to be a $143 million investment, with Biewer Lumber investing $132 million. Incentives worth more than $11 million were committed by Montgomery County, Mississippi Development Authority, Appalachian Regional Authority, and ATMOS.
Wood proudly welcomed Biewer to the community and said the development will not only bring jobs and increased revenue into the county, it will highlight the county as a prime location for future development, touting the county’s “central location, three major transportation corridors, and leadership committed to making Montgomery County an ideal locale to do business.”
Wood said Montgomery County purchased the land for $600,000 and took out a Capital Improvements Revolving Loan (CAP) for $2.2 million to improve the infrastructure surrounding the mill, including road improvements, expansion of the City of Winona water lines and sewer, extension of the city’s fire line, and improvements to the railroad, with plans for a rail spur to serve the mill.
Mississippi Development Authority awarded the development grant funds in the amount of $4.25 million to pay for site prep, railroad improvements, and public and private road improvements.
Wood said ATMOS has committed to a $3.8 million expansion of its gas lines from Winona to the mill, and the Appalachian Regional Authority committed $350,000 for the rail spur.
According to the Mississippi Development Authority, the company also qualifies for the Advantage Jobs Rebate program, which provides a cash rebate to eligible businesses that create new jobs exceeding the average annual wage of the state or the county in which the company locates.
Montgomery County is providing a fee-in-lieu of property taxes, a negotiated fee that is paid in place of the standard property tax levy, according to the Mississippi Development Authority.
Sue Stidham, director of the Montgomery County Economic Development Council, said the new sawmill will benefit not only Montgomery County but the entire area.
“We are proud and grateful to welcome a new company and citizen to our community, Biewer Lumber,” she said. “The jobs they bring will fill a need in Montgomery County as well as the surrounding counties.
Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers said, “I would like to thank Biewer Lumber for becoming a part of our community, and I look forward to the City of Winona working with this fine company to add jobs to our community.”
The Mississippi Development Authority worked with Biewer Lumber previously when the company developed a sawmill in Newton.
“Just a few short years after opening its first sawmill in Mississippi, Biewer Lumber already is constructing another facility, one that will provide good jobs to the citizens of Montgomery County,” MDA Director John Rounsaville said. “This new sawmill illustrates Biewer Lumber’s commitment to creating jobs in Mississippi and building stronger communities here.”