Governor Mills announces $20 million in federal funding to help lumber industry
MILFORD, Maine (WABI) - Governor Mills announced $20 million in federal funding as part of her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan for the Forest Products Industry.
Earlier this week she offered a combined $30 million toward Maine’s farming and fishing industries.
The money will be offered in multiple phases.
Phase one applications open November 22nd and offer immediate economic recovery grants.
One area the forest industry needs help with right now is cost of equipment.
“The average cost of a piece of equipment can range anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000. I think this first $10 million it’s not all going to go to contractors. It’s going to go to sawmills, it’s going for other purposes that have been impacted by COVID. But one of the purposes could be for contractors who have had to defer payments on equipment,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.
“Phase two to open early 2022, will be a competitive grant program to support other innovative forward looking projects,” said Mills.
Governor Mills emphasized the industry needs more places to sell their products.
Experts say they saw a 30-40% reduction in lumber markets during the pandemic.
Mills says funding will also cover research and development of new wood products.
“Sustaining these businesses and supporting efforts to create new and innovative products will open new markets, diversify this crucial industry, create jobs and strengthen our economy, particularly in rural Maine,” said Mills.
The final phases include additional grants that will be made available later next year or early 2023.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. We were set back by a distraction with COVID but we’re willing to move forward and continue the gains we were making in diversifying our economy,” said Patrick Straugh, Executive Director for the Maine Forest Products Council.
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