Appalachia’s Hardwoods Branch Out

ARC investments in West Virginia’s hardwoods manufacturing sector allow for entrepreneurs to receive the support they need in producing/marketing hardwoods goods, and for the development of a hardwoods industry strategic plan. 

In 2018 and 2019, ARC helped support entrepreneurs in the production and marketing of value-added hardwoods manufactured goods, the development of a hardwoods industry cluster strategic plan, and the development of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, all in West Virginia.

ARC provided a $1.8 million grant to the West Virginia Forest Products Cooperative in 2018 for training services and access to modern woodworking equipment for entrepreneurs’ intent upon starting their own businesses, as well as for employees of existing firms. Additional functions of the cooperative included marketing assistance for the products produced for sale by its members and clients.

That same year, ARC funded a study informing West Virginia’s hardwoods industry cluster strategic plan. The reports decided the quantity and quality of forest resources and established a basis for long-term management required to utilize the forest resource for sustainable development. The reports also included information on tree species, quality, diameter, height, and volume of pulpwood present in the inventory. ARC and matching funds helped acquire the needed information to actively manage West Virginia’s state forests. This study ensures proper and professional management of forests in West Virginia and helps sustain the health and productivity of timber and non-timber forest products.

Later in 2019, ARC further supported West Virginia’s hardwoods industry by investing in the development of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, an engineered wood product used in all types of commercial and multi-family residential construction. The manufactured CLT made use of Yellow Poplar, a hardwood species that is native to West Virginia and other forested regions of eastern North America. CLT is used in walls, roofs, ceilings and is a renewable and sustainable material. In addition to this, due to the thickness of panels in CLT, it has a high level of thermal insulation while still being a relatively light building material. Thus, foundations on-site do not need to be as large and smaller machinery can be used to lift CLT building materials compared to the machines required to lift heavier building material.