Collins, King Announce Two Innovation Funding Awards to Support Maine’s Forest Economy

GO Lab, Inc. and the University of Maine will each receive $250,000 to support sustainable forest products development and expand market opportunities.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), a cofounder of the Senate Working Forests Caucus, applauded a U.S. Forest Service announcement that GO Lab, Inc., in Belfast and the University of Maine (UMaine) in Orono have each been awarded $250,000 from the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovation Grant Program to support environmentally sustainable innovation and help expand markets for Maine’s forest products.


“Maine’s forest economy plays a vital role in the state’s economy, and it is critical that this industry has the tools it needs to adapt to changing markets,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “The funding will help the GO Lab, Inc. and the UMaine teams develop new products and opportunities for the forest industry and support rural communities that rely on it. We look forward to supporting these efforts to help Maine’s forest economy continue to grow and thrive.”


Specifically, the funding will support these projects:


·         GO Lab, Inc. will use the funds to build its first wood fiber composites manufacturing facility in central Maine.

·         The University of Maine will finalize the modeling, siting, and engineering for a biomass combined heat and power (CHP) system to supply the energy needs of its Orono campus.


Senators Collins and King have been strong supporters of revitalizing Maine’s forest economy, and these funding awards continue a stretch of important investment in research and new product development in the industry. Last week, they joined Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn); Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; and leaders from UMaine and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to announce the launch of a first in the nation large-scale bio-based additive manufacturing program and collaboration between ORNL and UMaine. Additionally, in March Senators Collins and King applauded an announcement from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) that they have partnered to initiate the Mass Timber University Grant Program. The new grant program aims to promote the construction of mass timber buildings on American higher education campuses throughout the country. The announcement follows a December 2018 letter – led by Senator King and signed by Senator Collins – that urged the USFS to establish an award program for education institutions to explore new potential uses for mass timber.


The projects funded by these awards align with the recommendations put forward in the action plan released by the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative in September 2018, an industry-led initiative that aims to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. Senators Collins and King celebrated this action plan upon its release, which 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.