Supporting the forest-based economy
The Center supports visionary economic development projects that sustain and create forest-based jobs while at the same time providing a range of community and environmental benefits. Price tags on these projects run to the millions of dollars and don’t fit standard financing options.
That’s where the Center comes in. We help these projects secure financing through the federal New Markets Tax Credit program, which provides substantial subsidies necessary to make these major projects possible. The Center can facilitate use of tax credit financing for projects that strengthen the forest-based economy in qualified areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts.
Our program works best for projects of $10 million or more, but can also significantly aid projects between $5 - $10 million. The tax credit program provides subsidized financing that is often a critical factor in making a proposed project economically viable. It also ensures that financed projects provide social, community and environmental benefits, which might include cost savings using modern wood heat, use of the forest as an educational resource, conserving healthy working forests, and implementing habitat restoration projects.
“It’s wonderful to be able to address conservation in its full sense to sustain our rural community—to address the economic, ecological and community needs.”
The Center has facilitated more than $80 million in tax credit financings that provided new capital for projects that have created jobs, sustained working forests and secured community benefits. These projects have funded the acquisition of 315,000 acres of working forestland and investments in recreation and tourism in the region.
The Center continuously seeks opportunities to help finance new projects involving the forest based economy, such as renewable energy, tourism, logging and forest products manufacturing.
The Center has helped bring about four projects through tax credit financing that are creating significant economic, community and environmental benefits.
In early 2016, the Center facilitated financing for a major investment in Piscataquis County that enabled the Appalachian Mountain Club to reconstruct its Medawisla Lodge & Cabins, build new trails, improve local fisheries and more.
In addition, the Center launched a new tourism investment program, in partnership with AMC and others, to spur investment in tourism businesses near Moosehead Lake. The Tourism Investment program, funded by this NMTC transaction, is helping tourism businesses implement innovations that will strengthen their businesses, expand job opportunities and attract visitors to the Maine Woods.
The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) and JP Morgan Chase provided capital and tax credit authority for the federal New Markets Tax Credit financing. “Our goal is to help create better economic opportunities for area residents while respecting local priorities,” said MHIC President and CEO Joseph Flatley. “We are grateful for the chance to work with such outstanding local partners.”
13 Mile Woods
In 2005, the town of Errol, NH, population 300, made a bold move. With the help of the Center, the town pioneered the use of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing as a tool to gain community ownership of local forest land.
The initiative paid off. The 5,269 acres financed with the help of the tax credits is providing a host of benefits, including $3.7 million in timber sales in the first seven years, as well as recreational opportunities and permanent public access. With the tax credit financing and timber income, the town bought the property without raising taxes. Read more about the 13 Mile Woods Community Forest.
West Grand Lake Forest
The 22,000-acre West Grand Lake Forest in Grand Lake Stream, Maine, located along the eastern shoreline of West Grand Lake, is the epicenter of the outdoor recreation industry that is central to the economic way of life in the Downeast Lakes Region of Maine. This industry includes professional guiding, sporting camps and lodges and is a primary source of jobs in the area.
The Center facilitated a tax credit financing package, completed in 2009, to finance the acquisition of the West Grand Lake Forest, to prevent the immediate threat of the property being bought for timber liquidation and speculative real estate development. The project created the opportunity to conserve the forestland with easements, which have been completed. These easements are crucial to the future of the Grand Lake Stream community, as they safeguard use of the forestland by the outdoor recreation industry, and create the prospect of adding 22,000 acres to the existing Farm Cove Community Forest. Read more about the tax credit financing for this project and about the effort to secure permanent local ownership as a Community Forest.
East Grand Woodlands
The East Grand Woodlands, 12,000 acres of forestland bordering on the 16,000 acre East Grand Lake, is of paramount importance to the outdoor recreation industry in the Chiputneticook Lakes Region in southern Aroostook County and northeast Washington County in Maine. The forestland has 30 miles of undeveloped shoreline on East Grand Lake and other lakes, and many other important ecological features.
To safeguard these economic and ecological values and to provide other community benefits, the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust sought help from the Center to put together tax credit financing that would provide a needed subsidy to enable The Conservation Fund to purchase the forestland from a private owner. The tax credit financing was successfully completed in 2011. The Conservation Fund is seeking to secure funding to complete working forestland conservation easements on the property.
Lyme Adirondack Timberlands
In 2006, the Center facilitated tax credit financing in connection with the Lyme Timber Company's purchase of 276,000 acres of forestland in the Adirondacks. The project promoted the use of innovative harvesting methods, helped complete working forest conservation easements for the land, and promoted increased production and sale of sawtimber to support regional sawmills.
The Center is always looking for opportunities to help finance projects related to the forest based economy, such as automated wood heating/renewable energy, recreational tourism enhancement, innovative logging practices, forest products manufacturing and working forestland acquisition. Projects using New Markets Tax Credit financing often take months to develop before they can be shared publicly. Be sure to subscribe to the Northern Forest News Digest to hear about the latest tax financing projects.
Financing through the New Markets Tax Credit program is best suited to large projects, generally needing $10 million or more, but may also be right for projects between $5-10 million.
To be eligible to receive NMTC financing through the Center’s program, a project must be intended to promote economic development, deliver community benefits, and be consistent with sustainable environmental principles. It must also be focused in an eligible geographic area.
The Center facilitates projects in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts.
For More Information
Steve Rohde facilitates New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing in forest-based enterprises in the region for the Northern Forest Center. Over the past 10 years, Steve has facilitated more than $80 million in NMTC financing that has provided new capital for projects that have created jobs, sustained working forests and secured community benefits.
Steve previously served as the Center's vice president of innovation and financing, directing both the Center's financing program and originating its innovation program for the forest products industry. Steve's past positions include deputy director and chief of policy and programs for the federal Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, director of Private Institutions Programs for the Michigan Strategic Fund, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Council on Jobs and Economic Development (in Michigan), director of Real Estate Finance for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, and staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Steve has lived in New Hampshire since 2000.