Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 18, 2017 1:00 a.m.
On January 17, 2017 under clear and sunny skies representatives of Rayonier Advanced Materials and Borregaard joined with local and state elected officials and economic development proponents to ceremonially break ground on the new LignoTech Florida facility in Fernandina Beach, FL. When completed in 2018, this 6-acre facility adjoining the Rayonier Advanced Materials plant on Gum Street will employ 50 people each at 150 percent of the current average wage in Nassau County.
During a brief ceremony before about 100 invited guests, speakers expressed gratitude to both the Fernandina Beach and Nassau County communities for their support in helping to bring to fruition a project “decades in the making,” according to Bill Manzer, Rayonier Advanced Material’s SVP for Manufacturing Operations. Manzer and Nassau County Commission Chair Danny Leeper, in addition to touting the new jobs both in plant construction and operation that LignoTech will bring to the community, emphasized that the plant will have a $28M annual impact on the local community.
Morten Harlem, Borregaard’s EVP for Performance Chemicals emphasized that sustainability is a core value of Borregaard. He said that the company works to reduce greenhouse gases while also maintaining profitability, thereby making their product cost competitive. He said that Borregaard has never had to close a facility due to lack of profitability. Although it will be about 18 months before the Fernandina plant becomes operational, he said that already 100 people are working on the project.
In speaking for the city of Fernandina Beach, Mayor Robin Lentz said that in the lead up to the groundbreaking, local elected officials had learned the value of patience and the strong sense of working together as a community on a project with huge potential benefits for the city and the county.
Nassau County Commission Chair Danny Leeper characterized the new joint American-Norwegian venture as a big win for all involved. In emphasizing LignoTech’s $28M impact on the local economy, he said, “I don’t understand who couldn’t get that.”
Paul Boynton, Chairman, President and CEO of Rayonier Advanced Materials, delivered the closing remarks. He said that his company creates value by adding science to nature. He also praised Rayonier employees for working together to save more than $100M annually in efficiencies without sacrificing value.
Each speaker was generous in praise and gratitude toward all the people in industry, government, economic development and the community for making this project possible.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.