Marilynn Mann trainingThe Northern Forest Center concluded a three-year project to provide technical and financial assistance to tourism businesses in the Maine Woods. The effort helped train 717 employees of just over 450 businesses on how to improve their bottom line and customer satisfaction. 33 microgrants were awarded to businesses to seek outside expertise to improve their marketing, leveraging $66,000 in private investment.

The tourism training initiative lays the groundwork for destination area development, a holistic, community-centered approach to creating high-amenity destinations that are attractive to live in and visit. We will work with tourism businesses and other stakeholders to use acquired skills from recent trainings to launch community training programs that offer series of intentional series of trainings that build necessary momentum behind destination development to tip the scale in starting positive change. Learn more of our takeaways from tourism training.

The Center is moving into its second full year of convening and facilitating the Rural Development Innovation Group, a network of rural development practitioners from across the country committed to highlighting inspiring examples of innovation in rural America, enhancing federal policy related to rural development, and engaging national philanthropic leaders to invest strategically in rural places.

We're thrilled that in December 2017, the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities committed funding to help sustain this effort for two more years!

The Rural Development Innovation Group, led by the Center, is talking with staff from multiple congressional offices, committees, and agencies to provide advice and insight on ways to improve rural development programs authorized through the upcoming Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill, the massive omnibus legislation that touches nearly every American—on a farm, in the forest, in the grocery store, in lower-income urban communities—is making its way through Congress. The Center is providing direct input into the Rural Development title of the Farm Bill through our work with the Rural Development Innovation Group—a national collaboration of organizations focused in improving policies and programs that impact rural places.
 
Joe at Rural Senate Summit with Sen Shaheen 9.2017In September, the group hosted a briefing to the US Senate Agriculture Committee staff, attended by representatives from 22 Senate offices. In the briefing and subsequent in conversations with congressional staff, we highlighted beneficial Rural Development programs currently slated for elimination in the President’s budget. We also suggested ways to improve the effectiveness of those programs. Drafts of these recommendations are available by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RialtoTheaterDuskLitMarqueeAnywhere you go in the Northern Forest, you can find an automated wood heat installation. This wasn’t true when we started our wood heat program in 2011, when you might have to travel a few hours to see a wood pellet boiler. But we’ve now provided incentives or technical assistance (such as grantwriting) for over 150 projects throughout the region, serving buildings of many shapes and sizes: homes, churches, small businesses, schools, towns halls and garages. We estimate that these projects have generated over $2.6 million in local economic benefits – money staying in the region and supporting the local forest economy – and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 3,100 tons. 
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Photo Credit: Lyndon Institute Website
We’re always happy to talk to folks in the Northern Forest about automated wood heat and to suggest installations near them if they want to see this type of heating system for themselves. Learn more on our website or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..