HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania recently hosted a successful international buyers mission focusing on the state’s hardwood industry that produced more than $17 million in projected sales, said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding.
The four-day mission was co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Hardwoods Development Council and the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Office of International Business Development.
Through this initiative, six buyers from Mexico and China were able to network with 19 companies across the state and view, firsthand, some of the best hardwood products available in the world. The companies specialize in manufacturing and supplying hardwood lumber, logs, flooring and other items.
“The international interest displayed through this mission is a testament to the high quality of Pennsylvania hardwoods and the deep commitment to the industry shown by our forest products firms,” said Redding. “We appreciate the Department of Community and Economic Development’s partnership to bring the buyers to Pennsylvania. Their time here was important to our hardwoods industry, in terms of the new revenues we anticipate as a result of the visit, as well as the signal this sends to the marketplace that the global economy may be rebounding.”
“With Governor Rendell’s leadership, the commonwealth has made it a priority to help Pennsylvania businesses find new markets in new countries,” DCED Deputy Secretary for International Business Development Wilfred Muskens said. “We enjoyed tremendous success before the economic downturn, but we are still making inroads because our efforts facilitated $455 million in export sales just this past year, which was 25 percent higher than the previous year.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the production of hardwood lumber, producing 1.1 million board feet each year.
The struggling global economy had a significant impact on the state’s hardwoods businesses. The industry, which as recently as 2007 was responsible for $17 billion in economic impact, has seen production and sales drop nearly 50 percent in the last few years, including the loss of approximately 20,000 jobs statewide, because of severe declines in domestic housing production and international demand.
Ray Wheeland, president and CEO of Wheeland Lumber in Liberty, was pleased with the mission.
“As a result of the hardwood Buyers Mission this year, I am confident that it will lead to an increase in new business for my company,” Wheeland said. “In the past, the mission has helped me to maintain or increase hardwood lumber exports to new markets around the world.”
The Hardwood Development Council began sponsoring an annual buyers mission in 2001. Since that time more than $120 million in new sales has been generated by the council’s various events.
The 2010 buyers mission included stops in Bedford, Bradford, Clarion, Fayette, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lycoming, Perry, Snyder, Venango, Westmoreland and Wyoming counties.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s hardwood industry, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us.”