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Idaho Forest Group announces southern expansion

Staff Writer | December 22, 2020 1:06 AM

Coeur d’Alene-based Idaho Forest Group is branching into the Deep South with plans to build a small Mississippi town’s first sawmill since the 1920s.

The new mill in appropriately named Lumberton, Miss., is a stepping stone for its southern U.S. expansion. With the transfer of 174 acres of county land from the Lamar County board of supervisors, IFG plans to operate its modern facility by 2022.

IFG has been exploring the abundance of raw material across the U.S. for some time, Vice President of Resources and Government Affairs Tom Schultz said. When they hit Lumberton, which reports a growing forest surplus, Schultz said IFG decided to establish roots.

“Between the availability and sustainability of raw material and the warm embrace we have received from locals, it was an easy decision to choose Lumberton for IFG’s first home in the South,” Schultz said.

Since the 1980s, IFG has grown to operate six sawmills and a finger-joint plant in Idaho and Montana and employs over 1,000 team members. Coeur d’Alene will always be the hub, Schultz said, but they are excited to expand cross country.

“It’s an opportunity to expand the business by moving into a different community, with a new species — the southern yellow pine — and move into new markets,” Schultz said. “Learning more about the industry and working with the southern culture and species is definitely something we are excited to do.”

IFG isn't planning to relocate any staff to the Magnolia State, but Schultz said southern employees will be coming to Idaho to learn from the best and brightest after hiring begins in late 2021.