Wood products manufacturing—a valued tradition in the Northern Forest—provides jobs to more than 20,000 people in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and northern New York. The industry remains an important part of our forest-based economy even as it faces ongoing stress from overseas competition and an aging workforce. Wood products manufacturing creates markets for wood, which helps forestland owners keep forests as forests, and supports employment for loggers, truckers and related workers.

The Center is helping the industry hone its competitive advantage through two initiatives so it can continue to provide good jobs in our communities. The Transformational Innovation Program provides financial support and technical assistance to help wood products manufacturers implement innovations that can profoundly change their businesses. The Skilled Workforce Initiative is helping manufacturers improve the skills of current and future woodworkers required for the industry to succeed, and creating a professional career path for woodworkers at the same time.


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"We couldn't have so successfully achieved our recent expansion—including absorbing 40 new employees—without the assistance of the Center and Jeff Howe. They're helping a very traditional business sector find new ways to be successful in a global economy."

—Doug Fletcher, owner, Maine Wood Concepts

Transformational Innovation

The Center offers financial support to help manufacturers adopt innovations that can transform their companies, making them more competitive and helping to secure and expand the number of jobs they provide. The initiative focuses on changes that can make a major difference for the company—such as Lean Manufacturing,Mass Customization, and Transformational Organizational Development.

Financial support for projects in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and northern New York can range up to $20,000 (or more in extraordinary cases), covering up to half the cost of using outside expertise to pursue key innovations. Smaller projects are also welcome. Our team will work with companies to help  identify projects that have the most potential for transformational change.

The Center has compiled a group of national and local experts able to assist with innovations. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to explore potential financial support to help your wood products business thrive.

Innovation Profile: Read how Maine Wood Concepts used the Innovation Program to update its management approach and organizational structure. Read more.

Skilled Workforce Initiative

The Skilled Workforce Initiative for Wood Manufacturing, launched in 2013, is helping the industry build the highly skilled workforce necessary to thrive in the global marketplace. Focused on Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, the initiative offers a credentialing and training system to:

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  • Assist wood products companies in hiring, training, retaining and promoting workers with needed skills
  • Help establish a strong career path for woodworkers by recognizing and valuing the profession
  • Assist educational and training institutions in better linking training opportunities with the market needs of secondary wood products manufacturers, and
  • Attract new talent to the industry

Program details for the Skilled Workforce Initiative.

Innovation Highlights e-newsletter

The Center publishes Innovation Highlights several times a year to publicize innovative work going on in the wood products industry, and to share industry news, events and program updates. To subscribe, complete this form and check the box to receive Innovation Highlights and other newsletters you are interested in.

See past issues of Innovation Highlights.

Regional Wood Products Consortium

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The Center has worked closely with the industry to implement our wood products programming by creating the Regional Wood Products Consortium. The Consortium is a collaboration between the Northern Forest Center and the wood products manufacturing industry in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and northern New York. The Center coordinates the Consortium, which has five industry trade association partners: the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association, the Maine Wood Products Association, the Empire State Forest Products Association, the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, and the Wood Products Manufacturers Association.