East Alabama Lumber indicates interest in rebuilding sawmill

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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East Alabama Lumber Company wants to rebuild its sawmill in LaFayette, according to Chambers County Development Authority Community Development Manager Chris Busby.

Busby spoke at Monday night’s council meeting in LaFayette, saying that the lumber company would like to rebuild after an April 23 fire caused major damage. The fire was caused by a compressor explosion.

“Over the past few weeks, the development authority has been in contact with the owners of the company about the future,” Busby said. “There was some discussion about potentially relocating their facility to their Salem location, but after negotiations with the company, they have indicated to us that they would want to rebuild the sawmill.”

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Busby presented a sales and use tax abatement for the new equipment and machinery to rebuild the sawmill and a 10-year tax abatement on ad valorem taxes on the materials that will be purchased for the rebuild.

“As you know, the educational portion of sales and use and ad valorem taxes are not allowed by the state of Alabama. Based on the $20 million investment, sales and use tax that will go toward the school system is $107,500. On the ad valorem portion, the amount of non-abated taxes are $443,986,” Busby said. “That is over the course of 10 years. That is an average of $37,000 a year on ad valorem taxes.”

The council approved the project agreement and the abatement agreement.

According to Busby, the estimated cost to rebuild the sawmill will be $20 million.

East Alabama Lumber’s LaFayette location employs 90 people. Some of those employees are working second shift at the company’s Salem location with the LaFayette sawmill destroyed. Busby said those workers would return to LaFayette once work to rebuild is completed.

Busby said the estimated start date for the reopened location would be 2023.

“As you know, supply chains are very difficult right now these days and these are all custom-built pieces of machinery,” Busby said. “It takes about a year, year and a half to actually construct these materials. They have to be constructed specifically for this project.”