Strengthening Maine’s forest economy
MDF is a lead partner in FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap /Maine), a unique cross-sector collaboration between industry, communities, government, education, and non-profits, which have come together to realize the next generation of Maine’s great forest economy.
The FOR/Maine coalition was created with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and is working to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract capital investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for communities impacted by recent mill closures.
In September 2018, FOR/Maine announced an action plan to grow Maine’s forest economy from the current $8.5 billion (annual) to $12 billion by 2025. The Roadmap outlines how the industry will achieve the projected 40 percent growth, much of it coming from new markets for the state. The sector will build on traditional strengths like saw logs and paper, and add new layers of innovative products – including eco-friendly chemicals, bio-degradable plastics, and medical and technical products made from nanocellulose – many of which can be made from the residuals of other wood manufacturing processes, and mass timber building materials such as Cross-laminated Timber (CLT).
The Roadmap is the culmination of two years of coordinated research and strategy development, informed by extensive data, global benchmarking, and industry expertise. It reveals Maine’s competitiveness in new global markets, and outlines five goals and 17 matched strategies to realize the opportunity, and build a more diverse $12 billion forest economy annually:
- Goal 1: Invest, Innovate, Grow – Sustain and grow Maine’s existing and emerging forest products economy, reaching $12 Billion in economic impact by 2025. This includes attracting investment in the forest products industry, marketing Maine’s bioeconomy to national and global audiences, and accelerating innovation in forest products and applications to leverage Maine’s leadership position within the industry.
- Goal 2: Manage Sustainably – Manage the wood resource using sustainable and responsible forest management practices. This is informed by accurate and current data about Maine’s forests.
- Goal 3: Develop Workforce – Prepare workforce for the future of the forest products economy. This entails making sure that current workers have the skills they need and that Maine is positioned to attract and prepare the necessary workforce for emerging products and new opportunities.
- Goal 4: Support Communities – Increase prosperity in Maine forest economy communities, especially those in rural areas and those affected by mill closures. This involves coordinated efforts across local, regional, state, and federal entities to attract capital investment.
- Goal 5: Coordinate & Persist – Organize the forest products industry with committed public sector partners, including the University of Maine, to implement the vision and goals. This requires a sustained, collaborative, and coordinated effort across local, regional, state, and federal entities.
FOR/Maine is also working closely with leadership in forest communities, including the six towns in Maine that have had mills close in recent years. The coalition is actively involved in efforts to diversify economic opportunities for these communities, supporting efforts to redevelop mill sites, provide more resources for brownfield cleanup and improve broadband access in rural areas.
The Maine Development Foundation is honored to serve as the convening agent for this exciting and collaborative effort. MDF is a non-partisan, independent leader in building public-private, cross-sector partnerships aimed toward driving economic growth statewide and improving the lives of all Mainers. We are thrilled to work with family businesses, the Department of Commerce, the MaineCongressional delegation, and our industry and community partners to leverage the potential of Maine’s forests and together capitalize on the opportunities Maine has to be a leader in the global forest-products market.