Louisiana-Pacific Postpones Opening of Cook Facility
Photo courtesy of Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

Louisiana-Pacific Postpones Opening of Cook Facility

The site, which would employ more than 150 Northern Minnesotans, was expected to open in 2018.

A Louisiana-Pacific Corp. executive told investors on Friday that the company is holding off on development of a new facility in Cook.
 
William Bradley Southern, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Nashville, Tennessee-based wood products manufacturer, said the company would instead focus on its Dawson Creek, British Columbia plant, which would produce the same product: a type of wood paneling known as oriented stand board, or OSB.
 
“Given our strong SmartSide [OSB] demand growth, we estimate that the Dawson Creek conversion will satisfy about two to three years of demand growth,” Southern said.
 
Cook officials hotly anticipated the re-opening of the factory as it would provide upwards of 150 jobs to the city. The city has an unemployment rate of 6 percent in March—higher than the 3.8 percent statewide rate.
 
State officials spent months courting Louisiana-Pacific, competing against Michigan and other states for an expansion project. Last June, the two agreed to a $66 million subsidy package to build a $440 million plant in Hoyt Lakes that would employ 250 people. That plan was later scrapped in favor of converting the old Potlatch/Ainsworth board factory in Cook.
 
At that time in October, Louisiana-Pacific CEO Curt Stevens said the Cook site was the better of the two as it offered ready railroad access and a speedier startup time—12 to 18 months versus two to three years.
 
With the latest setback, the site isn’t expected to open until sometime between 2018 and 2020.
 
To get the Cook facility up and running, the company first needs to outfit the site with new equipment and buildings, Southern said.
 
“Given the brownfield nature of Cook, we have initiated a more detailed engineering and design study, which will be followed by the necessary environmental permitting assessments,” he added.
 
In the meantime, Louisiana-Pacific is also developing a site in Val-d’Or, Quebec for the same manufacturing use. Between the two, Southern said the company would focus on readying Cook for manufacturing its popular wood siding product.