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. forest product manufacturing copyThe 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.

Wood Pellet Bins for StovesThis fall, more than 20 families in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont will be heating with new pellet stoves – with a twist. Instead of buying pellets in typical 40-pound bags, as most people need to do, they will have their pellets delivered from a bulk truck into a 3-ton storage bin. When they need pellets, they can simply fill a bucket directly from the bin and carry it to their stove.

The Northern Forest Center provided incentives for the stoves and bulk pellet bins to get more people in the Northeast Kingdom heating with local pellets and to demonstrate that bulk storage can work for pellet stove owners, not just for people who heat with automated wood pellet boilers (like those featured at www.feelgoodheat.org).

Mass timber interior courtesy of David Sundberg Imagine going to work in a 4-, 5-, or 6-story office building that is made primarily of wood. No steel beams or concrete floors in sight. With the introduction of “mass timber”—an innovative suite of wood technologies—it’s now possible to build sturdy and attractive mid-rise office buildings with wood. 

The Center sees great opportunity for the region’s forest economy if architects and builders in the Northeast build 5- to 10-story buildings from wood, as Europe and other parts of the US are doing.

A mass timber building includes everything from the structural, load-bearing supports crafted from cross-laminated timber to the cellulose insulation, wood floors, and wall-paneling assemblies that complete a building.

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The Northern Forest Center made a bold investment in creating the Millinocket Housing Initiative last year. Millinocket, Maine—home to the once legendary Great Northern Paper Co mill—has lost nearly half its population since its peak, resulting in a depressed real estate market and neglected properties. The Center recognized that the lack of quality housing would be a significant roadblock to attracting entrepreneurs and new families drawn to the area.

As a regional innovation and investment partner focused on renewing the pride, purpose, and vitality of Northern Forest communities, the Center is proud to be part of Millinocket’s burgeoning resurgence. The town is capitalizing on its proximity to Baxter State Park, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and more than 4 million acres of forest, as well as growth expected due to revitalization of the former mill site.