Big break comes for county with high unemployment

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Updated: 5/13/2013 11:31 pm
LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) -- A thunderous roar of applause from residents at Monday's industrial announcement sends a message loud and clear to Mississippi officials: Winston County is ready for jobs.

Natron Wood Products will be moving its new operations here to Louisville.

"We can get those jobs going again, just like people want to do all over the United States of America. They're ready to get back to work," U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) said.

For the city's mayor, it couldn't come soon enough.

"Two hundred jobs and a population size of ours will make a significant impact. The indirect jobs that come with 200 jobs in the wood industry is incredible," Louisville Mayor Will Hill said. "[At one time], we in Winston County saw unemployment as high as 22 percent in 2009."

That's about the time Georgia Pacific, the facility's previous owner, shut its doors.

Natron officials say a lot of work still needs to be done before they can start manufacturing their specialty plywood products, though.

They estimate six months to complete the refurbishment.
 
"A lot of demolition is taking place, but again, construction alone -- that's jobs, and we're excited about that," Hill said.

The announcement might make some wonder, though, why a company from Oregon would choose Mississippi.

"Look at the GE plant where we're putting together jet engines in Ellisville. [Then there's] Yokohama Tire Company [and its] first manufacturing plant in North America. Roxul, just the other day, [announced it would locate] in Marshall County, coming all the way from Denmark," Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said. "This has been a phenomenal year for job creation in Mississippi, and we're just getting started. It's just May."

Those 200 jobs may not completely make up for the 325 lost when Georgia-Pacific closed its Louisville facility in 2009, but most agree that Monday's announcement is a step in the right direction.
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