Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch has unveiled a new initiative to boost Indiana’s hardwood industry. The Indiana Hardwood Strategy aims to expand existing wood processing facilities and attract new hardwood companies to Indiana. Crouch says the industry contributes more than $10 billion to Indiana’s economy and supports more than 70,000 high-wage jobs.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Crouch said an assessment of the state’s hardwood industry showed room for growth.
"The total value in 2017 of Indiana’s hardwood exports were $250 million but we also import from outside of Indiana $230 million (worth of) sawmill products," said Crouch. "So you see that, by doing that assessment and seeing those numbers, what we recognized is there’s a real opportunity and excess demand here in Indiana that we can fill within our own state."
The assessment also showed the strength of Indiana’s sustainability and forest management efforts. Crouch’s office says Indiana has nearly 5 million acres of forestland, 84 percent of which is privately owned. The total acreage of timberland in the state has steadily increased since the 1960s and forests are currently growing in volume more than 3.3 times the amount being removed annually.
Crouch says the strategy has identified three key areas of focus: business development, education and marketing.
"In the business development, it’s about networking and technology and innovation and attracting new companies here to Indiana," said Crouch. "On education, what we’ve learned is that we don’t do a very good job of telling our story and so we have to education consumers and businesses on the sustainability of real wood and be able to tell the story about how we are replacing what we are harvesting three times what we take out. And then (with) the third leg of that strategy, marketing, we have to develop an ongoing campaign to promote the quality of Indiana hardwood businesses."
The assessment and strategy were commissioned by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and was completed by DJ Case & Associates, Purdue Center for Regional Development, Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Purdue Extension.
You can view the strategy below:
Crouch says an assessment of the state’s hardwood industry showed room for growth.