Forest products industry adding $20 billion annually to Michigan economy

Published: Aug. 19, 2016 at 2:09 PM EDT
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Two years ahead of schedule, Michigan’s forest products industry has achieved its goal of contributing $20 billion per year to the state’s economy, Gov. Rick Snyder announced during a stop at the Besse Forest Products Group facility in Gladstone.

The goal of reaching the $20 billion mark was set at the Governor's 2013 Forest Products Summit with the intent to achieve it by 2018.

“Aided by the leadership of the Timber Advisory Council and support from many partners, Michigan’s forest products industry has become an integral part of Michigan’s reinvention and continues to drive growth for rural economies throughout the state,” Snyder said.

The news comes out of a recent report by Larry Leefers, associate professor emeritus with Michigan State University’s Department of Forestry. The report also shows the number of forest products industry jobs has increased 12 percent since 2012.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh lauded the early attainment of the economic growth and jobs goals, as well as the continued support for existing industry and regional development.

“This is outstanding news for Michigan, and clear proof that sustainable forest management works for our natural resources and our economy,” Creagh said. “The state will continue to collaborate with industry leaders to keep this positive momentum going and to further boost exports of quality Michigan forest products.”

Across the state, the forest products industry employs more than 96,600 people in diverse positions, from loggers and truck drivers in rural areas to furniture and cabinetry makers in more urban settings. In the Upper Peninsula, the forest products industry alone is responsible for one-third of all manufacturing jobs.

In addition to job creation, industry leaders are working to create a healthy, sustainable forest – one that can support wildlife and outdoor recreation pursuits, as well as a booming timber industry.

Scott Robbins, director of public affairs and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for the Michigan Forest Products Council, said that for more than 20 years, most of the forest industry has been operating under several forest certification systems.

“Through internal, external and third-party audits, we now have the data to be able to document that our operations are truly sustainable and enhance water, soils, wildlife and forest ecology,” Robbins said.

New businesses already are being attracted to Michigan because of its strong commitment to sustainable forestry management. Arauco, an international wood products manufacturing company, will break ground this month on a new facility in Grayling. The plant is a $325 million investment for the company and is projected to bring more than 250 jobs to the community.