The Northern Forest Center and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities will be working with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to guide the strategic investment of $3 million in the Northern Forest over the next four years. The EDA announced the cooperative agreement Sept. 28, 2018.
The bulk of the funds will support specific projects to grow markets for wood products from the region and will be matched with equivalent investment from other sources.
“The Northern Forest congressional delegation has secured a unique opportunity that will invest in growing markets for the products and services from well managed forests,” said Joe Short, vice president of the Northern Forest Center. He said that projects will be identified through market analysis and engagement with a broad range of stakeholders. “We look forward to working with EDA, the U.S. Endowment and partners across the region to leverage these resources for the benefit of forest-based businesses in the Northern Forest,” said Short.
The project will invest in an integrated 4-state strategy to coordinate market development in multiple forest sectors, test new products and services from forest resources, and develop community-based infrastructure to capitalize on new market opportunities. It will support market development opportunities already underway in the region that are supported by EDA, the Northern Border Regional Commission, USDA Rural Development and private funders. Likely areas of investment include:
- Mass Timber Manufacturing and Construction: Creating market links between regional wood supply and manufacturing capacity with new markets for mass timber construction, particularly in high-density southern New England markets;
- Wood Products Manufacturing: Providing assistance to better position existing and new primary and secondary manufacturers for current and emerging markets;
- Wood Heat and Combined Heat and Power (CHP): Continuing to grow demand and infrastructure for wood heat and CHP as a critical market for low grade wood;
- Forest Recreation: Growing both supply and demand for forest-based recreation in ways that strengthen forest stewardship and local business outcomes.
“We’re very pleased to be working with our partners at the EDA to develop markets for wood products from the Northern Forest,” said Rob Riley, president of the Northern Forest Center. “As the national economy improves, we want to ensure our regional forest-based economy is healthy and resilient, providing quality jobs and employment opportunities, which requires continued business innovation that this award will help us to advance.”