West Fraser Sawmill in Perry, Florida, is set to permanently close its doors at the end of March, according to a company spokesperson. This decision comes after the mill was indefinitely curtailed in January 2023, with only a small crew remaining on-site for maintenance purposes. The closure of the mill is attributed to high fiber costs and a challenging commodity market, which have hindered its profitability. Prior to the curtailment announcement, the Perry Sawmill employed approximately 126 workers.

Impact on Jobs and Community

The closure of West Fraser Sawmill in Perry marks another blow to Taylor County, as it follows the closure of the Foley Cellulose Mill in the fall of last year. Combined, these closures have resulted in the loss of nearly 700 jobs in the county, accounting for approximately 23% of the total employed population. This significant loss of employment has a direct impact on the local economy and the livelihoods of many residents.

Economic and Social Consequences

Taylor County already faced economic challenges prior to the mill closures. In 2022, the Florida Department of Health estimated that 15.1% of residents in the county lived below the poverty level, with a median household income of around $46,000. These figures were higher than the state average, which stood at 12.9% below the poverty level and a median household income of $67,917. The closure of major employers like West Fraser Sawmill further exacerbates the economic hardships faced by the community.

Furthermore, the closure of the mill has implications for the county’s unemployment rate. In January, the unemployment rate reached 4.7%, the highest level since August 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. This indicates the immediate impact of job losses from the mill closure on the local labor market.

Other Mill Closures

West Fraser has also announced the closure of another sawmill in Bradford County, North Florida, citing similar reasons of high fiber costs and soft lumber markets. This closure resulted in the loss of 80 jobs. Furthermore, a mill in Fraser Lake, British Columbia, also faced closure, leading to the layoff of 175 employees. However, West Fraser aims to provide alternative employment opportunities at its other operations to mitigate the impact on affected employees.


The closure of West Fraser Sawmill in Perry, Florida, is a significant blow to the local community and economy. The loss of jobs and the economic challenges faced by Taylor County further highlight the need for diversification and support for affected workers. As the county grapples with the aftermath of these closures, it is crucial for stakeholders to explore avenues for economic growth and job creation to revitalize the community.

West Fraser Sawmill in Perry, Florida to Permanently Close, Resulting in Job Losses
This is an imaginary image of what a sawmill may have looked like in the 1920’s.