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Minnesota Looking To Attract Mass Timber Producers

A burgeoning industry based on a relatively new type of material may be coming to Minnesota. Known as mass timber, the material is an alternative to steel in building construction. While dozens of buildings constructed with the product are dotted around the country, the majority stand in the Pacific Northwest.

“This type of building product is new to the U.S.,” said Brian Brashaw, a program manager with the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s geared at taller buildings; it’s building more along the lines of four, five and six stories. That product is seeing a lot of growth in the United States.”

Now, local groups and governmental agencies are working on a plan to bring that industry to the Midwest. But before a production facility can set up shop in Minnesota, officials need to know if the right kind of raw materials can be produced in the region.

“This is a feasibility study where we’re taking a closer look at if the Midwest has the lumber production capacity and softwood lumber supply chain in place,” wrote Kristen Bergstrand, of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in an email.

A survey is being sent to 11 sawmills in the region that will help gauge if the state can sustain a mass timber industry. APEX, the local business and economic development organization which is sending out the survey, wants to learn the grade and board footage that mills have produced for trees such as red pine, jack pine, spruce and balsam — all considered viable materials for mass timber.

Read more on this from the Duluth News Tribune at

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