Stine construction continues

Published 11:07 am Saturday, September 22, 2007

NATCHEZ — Natchez’ growing economy inspired Stine Lumber to build bigger and better.

The Louisiana-based hardware store company is constructing a new store just down the highway from its current Natchez location on U.S. 61 South

With more renovation projects and a generally healthier economy, this was the time and place to build a larger store, Stine Lumber CEO Dennis Stine said.

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“The market went through somewhat of a recession when (the International Paper mill) closed, but it’s rebounding nicely,” Stine said. “We believe there’s growing demand, and we want to be part of that growth.”

The Natchez market is in need of a bigger hardware store, he said.

“It is void of major companies such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s,” Stine said.

The 100,000 square foot building is under construction now and should be open next spring, he said.

Although it will have the usual supplies, such as paint and lighting fixtures, in the front, or showroom, the lumber portion will be unique.

“It will have a drive-through lumber yard,” Stine said. “A customer can just drive in. The lumber is racked in such a fashion it’s easy to get to. Then, you can get in your vehicle and exit as you check out.

“We’re the only ones we know of in the country that combines a drive-through lumber yard with a very large showroom.”

Stine has partnered with Greystone Investments, a financing company, and Capitol One to build the store.

A federal tax credit program, geared toward areas that need economic revitalization, made the project possible, Greystone spokeswoman Christine Murphy said.

“We believe the Stine project is going to b huge for the local community,” Murphy said.

Another federal program, the Gulf Opportunity Zone, provides further incentives for businesses that locate in hurricane-impacted areas.

“It makes it easier for retailers such as ourselves to make investments,” Stine said.

When open, the store will employ approximately 80 employees and possibly up to 100 later on, he said.

“It is a real boon for the local economy,” Stine said. “It’s a $10.6 million project. It’s a big investment for our family, and I think it will make a difference.”