Since its earliest days, the Center has convened state and regional thinkers to build a shared vision and craft coordinated approaches to the region’s challenges. We led several initiatives that have resulted in millions of dollars of investment in the region.
Our track record of success includes:
Northern Forest Investment Initiative (2009 - 2014)
The Center led the Northern Forest Investment Initiative, which resulted in $30 million being invested in the region by private foundations and public agencies.
From 2009-2014, the initiative focused on creating new economic opportunities in the region, based on increasing private investment, developing the modern wood heating industry in the region, advancing innovation in wood-products manufacturing, encouraging Community Forests and forestry, and helping landowners realize economic return for the environmental services their land provides. Many of these projects and initiatives are ongoing as a result of this catalytic investment.
The Center secured designation for the Northern Forest as one of three “Forest Investment Zones” in the country supported by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities. Partners included Biomass Energy Resource Center, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., the Forest Guild, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, the Northern Forest Center, and the Trust for Public Land.
Numerous successful projects from the initiative are ongoing.
Northern Tier Farm & Forest Jobs Accelerator (2012 - 2015)
Northern Tier Farm & Forest Jobs Accelerator is a collaborative effort designed to enhance the working landscape economy to improve operating efficiencies, increase value-added production, enhance regional markets and build the 21st century infrastructure needed to meet these goals.
The project focuses on 8 counties in 3 states at the heart of the Northern Forest: Caledonia, Essex and Orleans counties in Vermont; Coos, Grafton and Carroll counties in New Hampshire; and Oxford and Franklin counties in Maine. Core partners include Northern Community Investment Corporation, the Center, White Mountains Community College, and Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.
Core funding for the project was secured by the Center and its partners via the federal Economic Development Administration and USDA Rural Development.
Sustainable Economy Initiative (2006 - 2008)
The Northern Forest Sustainable Economy Initiative (SEI) released its strategy and recommendations in October, 2008. The initiative began in 2006 to advance the findings of the Northern Forest Lands Council 10th Anniversary Forum and its recommendation to create “community and economic development strategies across the region to reinvigorate the rural economies of the Northern Forest.”
Throughout the project, 60 government, community and business leaders representing diverse sectors—arts, tourism, forest products, education, the environment, utilities, banking, and community and economic development—developed a strategy for revitalizing the Northern Forest economy and sustaining the long-term health of its people and lands. The strategy calls for long-term regional action in three areas:
- Protecting and enhancing the region’s assets by investing in its people, communities, infrastructure and natural resource base.
- Expanding enterprise by encouraging workforce, entrepreneurial and business development.
- Coordinating and advocating as a region to adapt to change by understanding and advocating for regional interests and priorities.
In 2015 the Center will be updating the Sustainable Economy Initiative as part of a project for the Northern Border Regional Commission.
The Northern Forest Wealth Index (1997)
The Northern Forest Wealth Index identified and assessed the core assets and values important to the Northern Forest’s overall wealth/well-being. It built on the region’s sense of identity by looking beyond debates and exploring a deeper meaning of regional wealth—one which considers the well-being of the Northern Forest’s communities, its culture, economy, educational systems and environment.
The Wealth Index project produced both a snapshot of the Northern Forest as a place defined by shared community, cultural, economic, educational and environmental assets and, more importantly, a greater sense of shared values and understanding of non-monetary “wealth” in the region.
In addition, the Center helped to create and capitalize the Community Forest Fund housed at the Open Space Institute and has facilitated enormous investments in the region through the New Markets Tax Credit program.