The Maine Wood Products Association will present its Pine Tree Award to Maine Wood Concepts, a family-owned and operated custom wood products company in Franklin County, in August for its contributions to innovation in the local forest-based economy. The Fletcher family has guided the business since it started 40 years ago, right through their recent acquisition of a line of gourmet kitchen products. Bangor Daily News

U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (ME) and Peter Welch VT) have introduced the Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act, a bill to spur the adoption of sustainably-harvested woody biomass as a heating fuel. This bill is a House companion to a similar bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Angus King and Susan Collins (ME) with co- sponsorship from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH). Current law leaves biomass out of energy tax credits that other renewable sources like solar and geothermal receive. The BTU Act will help level the playing field for biomass by:

The Center is offering, through the Regional Wood Products Consortium, new financial support to help wood products companies implement innovations that have the greatest potential for transformational change, with special emphasis on Lean Manufacturing, Mass Customization, and Company Culture and Organizational Development. Wood products companies in the Consortium's 4-state region have the potential to receive direct financial support of up to $20,000 from the Center’s Wood Products Innovation program. Smaller projects are also welcome.

In conjunction with the Woodwork Career Alliance and other partners, the Center launching a new workforce development program for the secondary wood manufacturing industry. The initiative's goal is to build the robust, highly skilled workforce necessary for the industry to be economically competitive in the global marketplace of the 21st Century. The program will benefit manufacturers, woodworkers and educational/training institutions.