By Ramona du Houx

November 22, 2021

Governor Janet Mills announced that the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is now accepting applications for Phase 1 of the Forestry Recovery Initiative, a multi-phase grant program to support Maine’s forest products industry and the people it employs, create and sustain jobs in rural Maine, and strengthen the state’s economy.

The deadline to apply is January 31, 2022.

“These grants will enable the state to provide support to as many timber-related forestry businesses as possible and provide much needed capital to stabilize and aid in the recovery of Maine’s $8.5 billion forest economy,” said Brian Whitney, President of the Maine Technology Institute. “The funding will help us move forward and adapt to address new market demands for the long-term sustainability of this legacy industry.”

The Governor announced the creation of the $20 million grant program through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan earlier this month. MTI is putting forward $10 million in Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants to provide immediate financial relief to forest products industry businesses that have experienced negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic to help them sustain the viability of their business.

“For generations, hardworking men and women across Maine have carved their livelihoods from our forests. While the products we make out of Maine wood have changed over time, the importance of the industry has not,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Our forest products industry employs tens of thousands of people in good-paying jobs and generates billions of dollars for our economy every year. It’s the lifeblood of our rural communities, and it’s why I want to make sure that we preserve these jobs for generations to come. Sustaining these businesses and supporting new and innovative products will open new markets, diversify this important industry, create jobs, and strengthen rural economy. I encourage all eligible Maine forest products businesses to take advantage of this opportunity.”

This new Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan program builds on the Mills Administration’s commitment to Maine’s forest products industry. The Administration awarded $9.4 million in Maine Economic Recovery Grants to support businesses in the forest economy.

“The forest industry is not only key to Maine’s economy but also supports our rural communities while our working forestlands play an important role in meeting our climate goals,” said Commissioners Amanda Beal and Heather Johnson. “As part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery program, this investment will directly support existing businesses that have been impacted by COVID and help stimulate innovative product and new market development for Maine’s timber assets.”

More specifically, eligible uses of Phase 1 grant funds may include but are not limited to:

  • payroll costs and expenses;
  • rent or mortgage payments for business facilities (unless otherwise waived by the lessor or lender);
  • utility payments;
  • purchase of personal protective equipment required by the business;
  • business-related equipment;
  • investments that strengthen the business’s ability to mitigate pandemic-related market disruptions;
  • expenses incurred to replenish inventory or other necessary reopening expenses;
  • necessary operating expenses.

Phase 2 will be a competitive grant program to improve market opportunities for Maine timber, which has suffered serious declines due to market disruptions from the pandemic. Funding will support forward-looking projects that address new market demands, provide new sustainable products, or otherwise advance the long-term stability of the industry, helping to create and sustain jobs in rural Maine and strengthen Maine’s economy. Phase 2 funds may also be used for infrastructure upgrades that strengthen the supply chain and help businesses pivot to new products and markets.

Phase 2 is expected to launch in early 2022 and the remaining $10 million of the total $20 million will be deployed in subsequent phases in late 2022 or early 2023.

The design of the Forestry Recovery Initiative is the result of community and stakeholder engagement, including meetings with industry members to explore the impact of the pandemic and to discuss the types of support needed.

For additional information, please visit MTI’s website.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to achieve three goals: immediate economic recovery from the pandemic; long-term economic growth for Maine; and infrastructure revitalization.

It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.

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