RFQ: Transforming Maine’s Future Forest Workforce: Seamless Pathways

Request for Statements of Interest and Qualifications for Consulting Services
FOR/ME: Transforming Maine’s Future Forest Workforce: Seamless Pathways

Issue Date: February 6, 2023
Closing Date: March 1, 2023

Part 1. Background & Opportunity

1.1 Overview

The forest products industry (FPS) has a long and proud heritage in Maine and remains a significant economic driver in the state’s economy. Technology, globalization, and evolving sustainability trends are bringing change and new opportunities to Maine’s traditional forest economy. As global markets shift, new ideas and strategies are needed to keep Maine’s forest economy strong and ensure the state’s rural communities prosper.

FOR/ME (Forest Opportunity Roadmap) is a broad coalition of forest industry leaders, the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, the University of Maine, Maine communities, trade associations, and economic development organizations, working together to develop and implement a long-term Vision & Roadmap for Maine’s forest products sector. In addition to industry partners, our collaborative group includes:

• Maine Forest Products Council
• State of Maine Department of Economic & Community Development
• Maine Development Foundation
• University of Maine
• Maine Community College System
• Professional Logging Contractors of Maine
• Maine Woodland Owners
• Maine Technology Institute
• Biobased Maine
• LP Corp
• Fox Forestry
• Hancock Lumber
• Lumbra Hardwoods
• Eastern Maine Development Corporation
• Spruce Mt. Adult Education
• New Ventures Maine
• Rural Aspirations

FOR/ME is working together to develop and implement a shared long-term vision for the sector by identifying the most promising opportunities to pursue and key obstacles to overcome to develop greater economic prosperity in the forest products sector across the State. FOR/ME started with a federal grant, awarded to The Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC), from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. A Workforce Strategy and Recommendations report was released in July of 2021, and the RFQ seeks to further the strategies supported by FOR/ME’s Workforce Committee. This specific work is being supported through a ME Department of Labor grant, Maine Industry Partnerships for Workforce Development Initiative, which was awarded to the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) in November 2022. FOR/ME’s Workforce Committee is serving in an advisory capacity with a group of core partners leading the effort.

1.2 Industry Background

The FPS is a core industrial driver of Maine’s economies and provides good jobs for over 13,000 workers across the state. The sector continues to undergo transition in its traditional industry base, while new technologies and opportunities are emerging leading the path for future growth in the sector.

A critical enabler of growth is the availability of a workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to accommodate labor demands of existing and emerging industries. In 2020, FOR/ME established a workforce subcommittee tasked with providing the necessary knowledge to develop a comprehensive workforce strategy that supports long-term competitiveness and growth in Maine’s forest product sector and achieves the goals of the broader FOR/ME initiative. This strategy was completed in July of 2021, and can be viewed here. These recommendations, which form the basis of grant, also align with the Maine Economic Development Strategy: 2020-2029 and Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan by supporting locally grown talent, promoting innovation, and building bridges for training and education opportunities to meet workforce needs and create family sustaining jobs. The Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029 identifies the need for an additional 75,000 workers to meet the State’s workforce needs. This need will be met in a variety of ways, including engaging the approximately 100,000 work-age adults who are currently underemployed or unemployed, many of whom come from populations historically underrepresented within the sector and/or disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 related job loss. This includes but is not limited to the following grant targeted populations: unemployed or underemployed Adults, in-school youth ages 16-24, out-of-school youth ages 16-24, people without a college degree, women, people of color, individuals involved in the justice system, and Veterans.

Transforming Maine’s Future Forest Workforce: Seamless Pathways this project represents an opportunity for rural communities in Maine to strengthen and build a resilient and diverse workforce to meet job replacement and growth needs in the FPS. The project implements strategic recommendations from FOR/Maine’s Workforce Committee by (1) developing transformational career and education pathways working with industry, university, community college, adult education, and community-based partners, (2) developing or expanding training opportunities in response to pathway articulation (3) assessing and addressing barriers to progression through these pathways by historically underserved populations and (4) engaging FPS human resource employees in education on practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve hiring practices and retention.

1.3 Purpose of the RFQ

The purpose of this RFQ is to allow the core partners to assess supplier(s) qualifications to serve as a consultant(s) to this project. Respondents are encouraged to submit qualifications to either A and/or B grant strategies listed based upon area of expertise. Multi-partner responses will also be accepted. Preference will be given to consultant(s) demonstrating the qualifications to serve strategies A and B. If more than one consultant is engaged for this work, consultants will be expected to work with each other throughout the duration of the project. The Committee makes no obligations or undertakings in any way to:

  1. go to tender; or
  2. accept any RFQ information received from suppliers; or
  3. include suppliers responding to this RFQ in any future tender invitation; or
  4. any other commitment to suppliers whatsoever, including any intention to form a contract with any supplier for provision of the RFQ.
    Grant period ends in December 2024 with grant goals and deliverables expected at regular intervals. Ideally, the consultant(s) will begin work no later than April 1, 2023. Work may ramp-up over a 2-3 month period, if timeline meets consultant(s) and grant timeline.

    Project Strategies

    Strategy A: Collectively develop inclusive FPS career and education pathways, generally for the sector, and specifically targeting 7-10 of the most highly needed positions within the industry. Logging Equipment Operators, Foresters, Log Graders & Scalers, Millwrights, Adhesive Bonding Machine Operator, CDL, and Mechanical Operators have been identified as the most needed positions; however, industry partners will be engaged to confirm and/or add to the list. Consultant(s) will be responsible to develop and implement career and education pathways.

    Strategy B: Using an equity lens assess and address barriers to entry and progression through career and education pathways by targeted populations (as defined above in section 1.2 Industry Background). Barrier removal/mitigation will be included within the career and education pathways developed in strategy A. Engage with FPS human resource employees to develop practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve hiring practices and retention and amplify successful efforts. The consultant(s) will be responsible to develop and provide professional development workshops for FPS human resources and related positions. Workshops may be developed and provided in conjunction with project partners or industry. The equity analysis will illuminate areas where under-represented workers face barriers to entering or progressing in a certain career path and will engage partners to develop solutions that will facilitate greater inclusion. Human resource professionals from Maine’s FPS will also be included in training opportunities on equitable hiring practices and building and maintaining an inclusive organizational culture.

    In addition, FOR/ME’s workforce committee’s career exploration efforts to-date will serve as the foundation for this work. Additional information is available HERE.

    For reference, additional grant strategies are listed below:
    • Provide training opportunities through grant partners, such as the Maine Community College System, University of Maine, adult education, and/or community training partners for at least two of the high priority careers;
    • Utilize current workforce development infrastructure within the State to enhance and build upon efforts to recruit, engage, develop, and place Mainers in good jobs in the FPS industry.
  1. Request for Qualifications Submissions and Project Timeline

    All responses or questions regarding this RFQ are due electronically by 5pm EST on Friday, March 3, 2023 to Erica Watson ewatson@mdf.org.

    Respondents are encouraged to submit qualifications to either A and/or B grant strategies listed based upon area of expertise. Multi-partner responses will also be accepted. Preference will be given to consultant(s) demonstrating the qualifications to serve strategies A and B. If more than one consultant is engaged for this work, consultants will be expected to work with each other throughout the duration of the project.


  1. DESCRIPTION OF APPROACH: Description of proposed consultant(s) approach to project or similar project, including implementation of similar projects.
  2. TEAM EXPERTISE: Brief description of what makes you/your firm uniquely qualified for this project, the multidisciplinary nature of the team assembled for this project, specific evidence of relevant experience, and a listing of key personnel that would be committed to work on this project. Please include resumes or CV of key personnel.
  3. COMPARABLE PROJECTS: Brief summary of 2-3 related projects in progress or completed, with the following information for each:
    • Reference name, with current contact information
    • Client type (clarifying role of private sector client, if any)
    • Size and scale of geographic area
  4. Availability to complete the project and Budget: high-level, suggested timeline including tasks to be performed and when each will be completed. Range of estimated budget to complete the project.

Evaluation of Submissions:

The selection committee will evaluate all submittals to determine which consultant(s) have the experience and qualifications that are most suited for this project. The RFQ review committee will request personal interviews with the highest-ranked consultant(s)s or may request one or more prospective consultant(s)s to submit detailed proposals, which may include the following:

  1. Detailed description of the methodology being proposed.
  2. Work program detailing:
    a. Tasks to be performed.
    b. When each will be completed (timeline).
    c. Tentative allocation of person days by task.
    d. Schedule of work products.
  3. Methods the consultant proposes to use to manage the project and communicate with core partners and project management team as to project progress and reviews.
  4. Identification of key personnel to be assigned to the project and their roles, with resumes of all key personnel.
  5. Budget: including hourly rates (inclusive of overhead and profit) for personnel or personnel categories.
  6. Timeline.

    Thank you for your interest in working on the on this project. We look forward to hearing from you.

    FMI: Erica Watson, Senior Program Director of Education & Workforce, MDF ewatson@mdf.org