Trade: The Chopstick Connection

The Chopstick Connection

Talk about coals to Newcastle. By January, Lakewood Industries of Hibbing, Minn., plans to be exporting chopsticks to, of all places, Japan. The new company will produce the sticks from the area's abundant aspen trees. Projected first-year revenues: up to $8 million. Lakewood has presold its first five years of production to three Japanese restaurant suppliers, who have been unable to obtain enough sticks from Asian manufacturers. Japan's demand for the disposable chopsticks is nearly insatiable: 20 billion pairs a year.

Hibbing, a community of 20,000 that is probably best known as Bob Dylan's hometown, has been hurt by the decline...

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