AUGUSTA, Maine - Five Maine communities impacted by recent mill closures will get more than $1 million in grant money, thanks to the The FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap) coalition. FOR is a broad coalition working to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract capital investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities.
The funds will be used for redevelopment projects deemed catalytic for the next generation of forest economy products, especially during this critical transition in global markets. The grants are primarily funded by the Northern Border Regional Commission and the Maine Rural Development Authority. They will be administered by Maine Development Foundation, which staffs the FOR/Maine coalition and is a key partner in the coalition’s work.
“This is an extremely positive step forward both to provide critical funding to these communities, but also because this funding was developed by a coordinated and concerted effort that focused on regional needs rather than just one group or community,” says Charlie Spies, CEO, CEI Capital and FOR/Maine Communities Subcommittee Chair. “The need was apparent as one mill after another shut down over the last decade, leaving these century-old, forest-based economies anchorless. The recent appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates the need."
The five awardees prevailed through a process aimed at identifying new opportunities that will have a fundamental impact on economic revitalization and the next generation of forest products:
- Ashland - $150,000 to develop a new Structural Round Timber market on the east coast based in Ashland.
- East Millinocket - $210,000 to stabilize the former Great Northern Paper mill campus, including the repair of several structures to make them available for long-term lease for forest-products businesses.
- Lincoln - $185,000 to redevelop the Lincoln Paper & Tissue mill site through feasibility assessment and planning related to building rehabilitation, upgrading essential infrastructure, and restoring waste water treatment.
- Madison - $400,000 to redevelop the Madison mill site through demolition of the special chemicals building and boiler house for a new use of the site by GO Labs for the production of wood fiber-based insulation products.
- Millinocket - $216,090 for energizing the substation on the brownfield portion of the Great Northern Paper site, where potential tenants are ready to locate contingent on the upgrades.
"The forest products industry has been a critical economic contributor to rural Maine communities for generations, and with the right investments, it can continue to play a vital role in our state for years to come," said Senators Susan Collins, Angus King, and Congressman Jared Golden. “The work of the industry-led FOR/ME initiative has helped position this sector for continued success, and these grants for Ashland, Millinocket, East Millinocket, Lincoln, and Madison will build on its progress."
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