ST. PAUL, VA – JANUARY 15, 2021 — Some 73 new jobs will be coming to Russell County soon, with the announcement that Rambler Wood Products will establish a new value-added wood products manufacturing facility in the former Bush Furniture Industries building in St. Paul.
A $2.5 million loan from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) was closed recently with the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) which was used to acquire the facility for the project.
“On behalf of the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), we would like to welcome Rambler Wood Products to Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and the jobs and investment that it will create,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “VCEDA worked with the Russell County IDA to land the project and provided a $2.5 million loan to the IDA to acquire the facility for the project.”
In addition to the loan funding received for the project, Rambler Wood Products projects making an initial private investment of $7.6 million. Within 12 months, Rambler projects a total private investment in the project of $21.8 million.
As planned, the nearly 300,000-square-foot facility will enable Rambler Wood Products to become the first business of its kind to operate entirely indoors, allowing for full capacity production year-round.
“The Russell County IDA worked tirelessly with the Rambler Wood Products group for the location of this new wood products operation in St. Paul and we would like to commend the IDA and its chairman, Ernie McFaddin, for their hard work on this project,” Belcher added.
“I am thrilled to welcome Rambler Wood Products to Russell County and look forward to a long partnership in support of Virginia forestry, one of our largest industries,” McFaddin said. “Rambler’s commitment to our community will provide a significant boost in our local economy and is a tribute to our hardworking residents.”
“The Rambler Wood Products Company is excited to join the Russell County community,” said Mark Wadams, Rambler Wood Products Company founder. “We are proud to be a part of the economic development efforts in the region and will offer high-quality, good paying jobs with attractive benefits. We also hope to broaden the market for local timber by making use of virtually all of the species grown in the region in our operations. In addition, our ‘waste nothing’ philosophy guides every aspect of our business, including working with loggers and landowners to ensure Virginia’s forests are sustainably managed.”
Rambler will convert high-quality white oak into barrel staves for the West Virginia Great Barrel Company. The facility will also use Red Oak and lower value hardwoods to produce dimensional lumber for sale to flooring manufacturers, pallet production and for use in the mining industry. The remaining wood chips and saw dust will be sold to paper manufacturers or made into wood pellets. Through this project, the company is committing to source at least 55 percent of its timber from the Commonwealth, supporting regional loggers and forestland owners through the purchase of $22.3 million in Virginia-grown hardwoods in the next three years.
Additionally, in the IDA application to VCEDA on the project, it was noted the company will also operate a research and development center to engage in further study on renewable energy and coal/timber energy development.
Altogether, the application indicated the project has the potential to create more than 120 new manufacturing and research jobs in St. Paul, while enhancing the region’s economic redevelopment and the renewable energy sector as well.
An economic Impact analysis prepared in July for the company by the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, suggested, “When the multiplier effects resulting from Rambler payments to Coalfield Region businesses and labor are considered under the two timber resource procurement scenarios (50% and 75%), the total Coalfield Region economic impacts are 192-215 jobs, $39.5-$42.8 million in total industrial output, and $14.1-$16 million in value-added.”
“Bringing Rambler to Southwest Virginia has been a collaborative effort,” Wadams noted. “We would like to give heartfelt thanks to the people and organizations that have welcomed and supported us on this endeavor: Ernie McFadden and the Russell County IDA, Governor Ralph Northam and his team, Emily Flippo and the team at VDACS, Russell County Board of Supervisors, Congressman Morgan Griffith and his team, Delegate Terry Kilgore, Jonathan Belcher and his team at VCEDA, Saint Paul IDA, Mayor Ken Holbrook and his staff at the Town of St. Paul, People Incorporated and many others that we have had the pleasure of meeting in this process.
“The Rambler Wood Products team would also like to acknowledge the work of the late Senator Ben Chafin on this project,” Wadams continued. “During our diligence process, Senator Chafin graciously welcomed us as though we were already a part of the community and his kindness left an indelible mark, even in the short time we knew him.”
In addition to VCEDA, Russell County, and the Russell County IDA, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been an integral part of the project. Governor Northam approved a $300,000 grant from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to secure the project for Virginia. Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP).
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.