America’s forest landowners and forest products industries rely heavily on a cadre of small businesses for the harvesting and transporting of trees. If those small businesses don’t thrive, forest landowners and converting mills suffer.
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) and the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) today announced a joint investment in South Carolina’s only cooperative-owned diesel fuel depot to help ensure more sustainable businesses and a brighter future for all associated with America’s forests. The depot, located at the entrance to International Paper Company’s Georgetown, SC, paper mill, is one of twenty facilities developed by the Southern Loggers Cooperative (SLC) since its inception in 2004.Timber harvesting companies that are members save on each gallon of diesel fuel they purchase at a SLC depot, and then share in any profits at the close of each year.
“The Endowment is founded on and committed to supporting the needs of North America’s forest industry,” notes Endowment President Carlton Owen. “Timber harvesters are the most fragmented and perhaps least appreciated link in the forest-to-consumer value chain. Our investment with NCIF will help not only loggers in the Low Country of South Carolina, but we hope that it spurs SLC and others across the nation to turn attention to ways to help these small businessmen and women become more sustainable.”
Rick Larson, Director of NCIF’s Sustainable Logging Initiative, says “We’re very excited to join the Endowment in funding the Georgetown Depot. Helping loggers reduce their fuel costs is critical to their financial self-sufficiency, and NCIF is committed to supporting strong, economically viable, and responsible logging enterprises throughout the Southeast and Appalachia.” In the past, NCIF and the Endowment have partnered to create a capital source for small-scale forestry businesses (ShadeFundTM), and the Endowment is providing critical operating support for NCIF’s Logging Initiative in Georgia.
Joe Young, President of Low Country Forest Products, and a logger for over 50 years brought the need for funding for the Georgetown facility to the Endowment. “We can’t thank the Endowment and NCIF enough for stepping up to help America’s loggers help themselves. Since all 10,000 logging firms are small businesses that operate independently we are both everybody’s concern and no one’s concern,” he says.
“It’s good to have strong financial partners like these two supporting the pioneering work of SLC.”
“As the only timber harvester membership cooperative in the nation, we are very pleased to be working with nationally-recognized organizations like the Endowment and NCIF, to advance our cause,” said SLC Executive Director Todd Martin. SLC now provides more than 23 million gallons of diesel fuel at a substantial savings per gallon to its more than 1500 members. SLC is adding additional benefits and services such as tires and health insurance to help its members thrive under ever-increasingly tough business conditions.