In 2017, the Center launched a new program to help Northern Forest towns regain the vibrancy that makes communities attractive places to live, work and raise a family. Our targeted approach builds on the Center’s 20 years of regional leadership and investment in the region’s forest economy to build economic and community vitality.
Addressing steady population loss—especially of residents between 25 and 45 years old—is a fundamental challenge for the region. This age group brings energy to start new businesses and participate in civic leadership, and their children bring schools to life. Attracting and retaining younger people requires investments in community that satisfy their personal, family and professional needs, including affordable access to high-speed internet, good schools and hospitals, social opportunities, outdoor recreation, and quality housing.
Community economic development is long-term work, and needs often exceed what local organizations and volunteers can accomplish alone. Center staff use their skills and experience in community development, the forest economy, and other arenas to increase the power of small towns to get things done and move closer to their goals.
The strength of our local partnerships comes from combining residents’ local knowledge, history, and vision with the Center’s regional perspective, skills and resources. Working together creates energy, momentum, and tangible community results.
The Center is currently focusing in several targeted areas to test different approaches to revitalization.
Lancaster, New Hampshire
Bike Borderlands — Regional Mountain Biking
The Center’s revitalization work builds on our deep investments in wood heat, wood products manufacturing and destination development across the region. Through initiatives in Lancaster, western Maine, and Millinocket, we’re testing integrated approaches to community economic revitalization and forest stewardship.
The Center is helping to accelerate projects, investing in activities with tangible results, raising awareness of local recreational assets, and contributing to long-term community strategies. We look forward to sharing what we learn with other Northern Forest communities in the coming years as we work together to revitalize this region.