Washington DC-- The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded a $1.1-million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the University of Maine to continue to support the FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap) coalition as they implement their ambitious plan to stabilize, diversify and grow Maine’s forest economy by 40% over the next 5 years. The grant will be matched with $499,000 in state funds and $278,608 in local funds.
“FOR/Maine is excited to implement strategies to diversify products and profit streams that will strengthen employment and innovation opportunities for rural Maine,” said Steve Schley, Chair of Forest Opportunity Roadmap / Maine (FOR/ME). “This additional funding enables FOR/Maine to proceed with Phase II of our efforts and extend the close collaboration between the forest industry, the Maine communities in which we are based, the University of Maine and all levels of local, state and federal government.”
Building on the nearly $1 billion of recent and announced capital investment in traditional wood products, Phase II of FOR/Maine will focus on sustaining that momentum, commercializing new uses of wood, and establishing Maine as a global center of wood technology innovation. Project activities will include a comprehensive program of marketing, matchmaking, workforce recruitment and development, landowner forest management, and industry/sector communications, among other activities.
Securing the funds and successful coalition efforts would not be possible without the multi-partisan support of Maine’s congressional delegation.
“Maine’s forests play a central role in our state’s economy,” said Senator Susan Collins. “This substantial funding will help the University of Maine and the FOR/Maine coalition continue to grow Maine’s forest products industry, create jobs in our rural communities and attracting additional private funding.”
“Maine’s forest products industry is experiencing a renaissance, and that’s due in large part to the collaborative work done by the FOR/ME initiative,” said Senator Angus King. “Through their leadership, our forest economy is making significant advances in attracting investments and encouraging innovation. This funding will help FOR/ME continue to create new, sustainable markets for forest products and implement workforce development strategies that both boost our economy and strengthen our rural communities.”
“This $1.1 million grant to the University of Maine’s Forest Opportunity Roadmap Coalition will help ensure good jobs in our forests and paper mills are a reality for the next generation of Mainers,” said Congressman Jared Golden. “The FOR/Maine coalition has an ambitious plan to grow the forest products industry by 40 percent over five years, and this important funding will support that plan, helping to create new jobs in rural Maine, prepare for the industry’s future, and carry on the proud legacy of Mainers in the forest products industry.“
“Maine is the most forested state in the nation, and our robust forest and wood products industry currently contributes $1.8 billion dollars to our state’s economy,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “I see an even brighter future ahead for this sector as innovative wood products replace plastics, fuel, building materials, and more. FOR/Maine is demonstrating how collaboration and cooperation are the cornerstones of success, and how traditional industries can be innovative leaders for our state’s future.”
To learn more about FOR/Maine, visit formaine.org.