On behalf of the Northern Border Regional Commission, the Center brought together public and private funders from across the region to take part in a day-long forum on the regional forest economy. More than 80 people attended, representing six federal agencies, 12 foundations, and seven Congressional offices, plus a variety of state and community partners.
The Border Commission contracted the Center to develop and facilitate the event, with the goals of helping participants:
- understand the economic status and trends of core regional forest sectors and socio-demographic trends in forest-based communities;
- learn about promising innovation and investment strategies for strengthening the forest economy and communities that depend on it; and
- network with other public and private funders, with an eye toward opportunities for collaboration and co-investment.
A facilitated dialogue capped the day, enabling attendees to combine their own expertise with what they learned during the day to explore potential alignment and collaboration among federal, state and philanthropic funders in the forest industry, in recreation and tourism, and in community development.
Participants appreciated the unique mix of the gathering and the value of connecting with people beyond their usual boundaries and jurisdictions. The Border Commission will use the day’s discussion to inform how it deploys $6 million in new federal funding this year that has been earmarked specifically for developing wood product markets and revitalizing forest-based communities in the region.
The Center will summarize the data presented and ideas generated at the forum in a report to the Border Commission, focusing on the region's funding gaps and priority needs, and ways to advance the regional forest economy.