WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) announced that the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) had awarded $2,004,673 to East Millinocket Industrials, Maine Development Foundation, and Northern Forest Center. Senators Collins and King are strong supporters of investments in Maine’s forest products industry; in August, they celebrated the reopening of the historic Old Town Mill. This is the latest in a series of important investments by the NBRC in Maine’s forest economy – the Commission previously announced funding awards aiming to revitalize the rural communities in June and July.
“Maine’s forests play a vital role in powering our state’s economy, and investments like these can help create new opportunities for those who have relied on this industry for generations,” said Senators King and Collins in a joint statement. “We welcome this funding from NBRC, a critical source of investment for northern and central Maine, to bolster our forest products industry and create jobs in Maine’s most rural areas.”
The funding is allocated as follows:
· East Millinocket Industrials has received $450,000 to redevelop the East Millinocket paper mill site into a multi-industrial complex.
· Maine Development Foundation has received $646,396 to develop a partnership model building on stakeholder-driven work to focus on the revitalizing community projects in communities most impacted by mill closures.
· Northern Forest Center has received $908,277 to launch an initiative in various states, including Maine, to attract visitors and improve the quality of life for residents.
Senators Collins and King were instrumental in establishing the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative, an industry-led initiative that is helping to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. The FOR/Maine Initiative was funded in part by the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by the Senators in 2016 in order to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. The EDAT recommended the development of new markets for Maine’s forest resources, including the strengthening of existing forest products manufacturing, the attraction of investment in emerging technology, and the utilization of forest products residuals in CHP biomass plants, microgrids, modern thermal systems, and new forest products development.
The FOR/Maine Initiative has helped many organizations who are working to bolster Maine’s forest industry receive federal funding. Last week, the senators announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) had awarded $6,000,000 to the University of Maine (UMaine) to help create a digital monitoring system that will help users better assess, understand and forecast changes that directly impact the future of Maine’s forest economy. Two weeks ago, Senators Collins and King applauded an announcement that GO Lab, Inc., has purchased the site of the former Madison paper mill and intends to use the facility to produce innovative biobased insulation. The company plans to employ 120 people at the site, which would become North America’s first producer of wood fiber insulation.
In May, Senators Collins and King applauded a partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Maine to launch a first in the nation large-scale bio-based additive manufacturing program within UMaine’s Advance Structures and Composites Center (ASCC). The collaboration will provide ASCC students, faculty and associated companies with access to ORNL’s assets and expertise in advanced manufacturing. ORNL researchers, in turn, will gain access to UMaine’s facilities and expertise in sustainable composites. The partnership will advance 3D printing capabilities with wood residuals, establishing Maine as a global leader in a new manufacturing process and developing fresh markets for Maine’s forest products industry.