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BREAKING NEW GROUND: Rex Lumber officially begins construction on Troy sawmill

Construction has begun on a new state-of-the-art lumber mill in Pike County.

Rex Lumber officials and county and state dignitaries dug their shovels into the dirt for the first time on the 214-acre site that will become the home to the massive facility.

“This is a very exciting and important event,” said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation. “The economic impact on Pike County and the surrounding area will be tremendous.”

The site is located off of County Road 7714 and has already been completely cleared and prepared for construction to begin. Rex Lumber officials expect the facility to be operational by June 2019.

“This is indeed a great day for Pike County,” said Robin Sullivan, chairman of the Pike County Commission. “It’s a big deal for Pike County to get a company of this magnitude providing quality jobs, good pay and pumping that much money back into our economy.”

Rex Lumber, founded in the 1920s by W.D. McRae, continues to be owned and operated by the Finley McRae family of Graceville, Florida.

Several members of the McRae family, including Finley McRae, were present for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Working with the McRae family and these employees has been on of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had,” Gaylard said.

Caroline Dauzat, one of the owners of the family-operated company, thanked everyone that has come together to bring the company’s newest site to Pike County.

“We’re grateful to be here in the great state of Alabama to break ground,” Dauzat said. “We are looking forward to a long and prosperous future in Pike County and Alabama.”

The new site will be one of the most advanced lumber mills in the country according to company officials. The site map was displayed at the ceremony Tuesday, showing the layout of the sawmill, three kilns, a log crane and more.

“That is a heck of a site,” said Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

In exchange for the county’s commitment to the company, Rex Lumber Troy is committed to bring at least 110 jobs initially and inject over $100 million into the local economy.

Boswell said there will be even more people employed and impacted indirectly by the company.

“The impact is going to be phenomenal,” Boswell said. “This is one more nail in the board of prosperity that establishes us as a major player in the wood basket of the world … We’ll not only be here for this ceremony, but for your grand openings and the expansions you’ll be having in the future.”

Rick Oates, Alabama State forester, said  Pike County has the timber to support the lumber mill for years to come.

“I’m tasked with maintaining our forests,” Oates said. “I’m here to help landowners manage their land so they have a good timber supply for this mill.”

Alabama Sen. Jimmy Holley and Rep. Alan Boothe presented a joint resolution during the ceremony commending the company for bringing jobs to the county and boosting the economy.

“Today’s announcement is monumental,” Boothe said.

Gov. Kay Ivey was out of country, but she previously commented on the project when the county first approved it in February.

“Rex Lumber’s new Alabama lumber manufacturing facility will not only bring high-quality jobs, but will also create substantial economic benefits for the industry to Pike County,” Gov. Ivey said. “We’re committed to helping this new operation succeed and thrive for years to come.”