MILFORD, Maine — Governor Janet Mills announced a new initiative Friday to support Maine's forest products industry and its workers. The Forestry Recovery Initiative is providing $20 million in federal funds that will be administered by the Maine Technology Institute.
The grant money will be used to help forestry businesses across the state financially recover from losses due to the pandemic. The funds will also be used to develop new wood products and upgrade infrastructure to allow these businesses to expand the selling of their products in new markets.
Dana Duran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contracts of Maine, said the industry saw a nearly 30-40% decline in available markets for harvested wood during the pandemic, and a shift of use of paper which resulted in a nearly 20% decrease in revenue for paper mills.
Mills said the money will be made available to these forestry businesses in phases. During the first two phases, $10 million of the funds will be used.
"Phase 1, which opens for applications Nov. 22 will provide immediate financial relief to forest product businesses that still need help just to sustain the viability of their business. We want to make sure that these enterprises are able to keep their doors open and keep people employed during these tough economic times," Mills said.
Mills said Phase 2 will launch in early 2022 and be a competitive grant program to support other innovative projects by businesses in the industry.
The rest of the $10 million will be launched in phases to happen in late 2022 and early 2023.