Logging expo meant for anyone in wood industries

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FRANKLIN—With all of the wood product economic news announced coming to the area lately, the need for loggers is becoming important.

Getting all the players together has become the task of Harrell Turner, who is heading up a task force looking into the issue.

“I’m just trying to get people connected,” Turner said.

The Southeast Virginia Logging Capacity Task Force was formed to look at the logging capacity issue in the region and develop the needed workforce capacity to meet employer demands.

Funded with an initial grant secured by Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center, priority efforts are developing training programs and resources to help satisfy demand. Additionally, grant money has come from International Paper Foundation and Enviva, and future funding is being sought from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Agricultural and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

Turner said that southeast Virginia experienced a downturn in wood product industries over the past decade, but the trend is showing a reverse as a number of new projects by wood-using industries have been announced.

He cited the repurposing of the IP mill for fluff pulp (2012); the construction of two new wood pellet plants by Enviva (2013); and the conversion of two coal burning power plants to wood fuel by Dominion Power (2013) as reasons for the need to increase logging capacity.

The task force is sponsoring a Logging Expo June 7. The event is for “anyone associated with logging — from equipment dealers to financial consultants — to business management,” Turner explained.

“We want to find any way possible to help loggers already in the business and those who want to go into the business,” he stressed.

There are many ways the task force hopes to assist in rebuilding the industry, including offering continuing education classes to get credits loggers need to maintain the Sustainable Harvesting and Resource Professional loggers’ designation. They have to keep this title current or mils will not take their wood.

“We want to help loggers any way we can. We want them to be successful,” Turner said.

The expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 7, at PDCCC Workforce Development Center. A variety of information will be available and lunch will be provided.

The Expo is one of the objectives the task force is tackling. Others include developing business-counseling services; developing a logging resource center at the Workforce Center; pursuing truck driver training programs; and providing career counseling to encourage logging start-ups.

Besides Turner, other Task Force members include William Snyder (International Paper), Paul Howe and Shannon Fowler (V. Forestry Association, Jim Mooney (Va. Loggers Association, Randy Fields and Ed Sontage (Enviva), Marc St. John (RockTenn), Scott Barrett (Va. Teach SHARP Logger Program), Neil Clark (Va. Tech Extension), Amanda Jarratt (Franklin-Southampton Economic Development), Carl Garrison (Va. State Forester) and Randy Betz (PDCCC Division of Workforce Development).

For further information about the expo, call (757) 569-6050.