One group’s long-discussed plan to buy the former Louisiana Pacific plant in Center has failed, but another group has arisen in its place.
The original project, which would use the former oriented strand board (OSB) plant to make wood pellets for wood-burning stoves, apparently failed for economic reasons.
“All I know is the investors they had didn’t work out,” said Courtney Bernardi, director of economic development for the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce. “It fell through based on the investors.”
The group had been working on the project for more than a year.
But another group with the same goal in mind has arisen, according to Bernardi and Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant.
“According to the state project managers, they are working with somebody to start another project,” Bernardi said.
“It’s essentially the same thing,” confirmed Bryant. “Another group has picked it up and is running with it now. There is a new group of investors, but some of the non-investor folks (from the first group) are still in it.”
Bryant said he’s been told that the new group wants to move quickly and that the new iteration of the project would be “higher tech” than the first group and offer more jobs.
The first group planned to export the wood pellets to Europe, through the ports at Savannah or Brunswick. There was talk at one time that the company wanted its trucks to run on natural gas to make its product “more green” — and more valuable to potential consumers.
Before the plant can crank up, it must get an emissions permit from the Environmental Protection Division. The EPD was reportedly in the process of arranging a transfer of LP’s permit to the new company.