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July 25, 2014

New future for Minnesota logging: Rayon textiles?

The Star Tribune reports that the logging industry in Minnesota, struggling as demand for paper sags, may find its future in transforming trees into textiles.

Specifically: rayon. The South African owners of the Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet, the state’s largest mill, are investing $170 million to convert the plant so that workers there can turn wood into fiber that can be made into thread, the Star Tribune reports.

The move is part of a broader effort by the logging and paper industries to find new uses for wood. The state’s $10 billion forest economy is shrinking and industry leaders are seeking new ideas and products, the Star Tribune says.

The logging industry has a long, proud tradition in Minnesota, the Minnesota History Museum notes. But the tree harvest in Minnesota has fallen 40 percent in six years, the Star Tribune reported last month.