UMaine-led FOR/Maine coalition chosen as a finalist for up to $100 million in EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Proposal aims to accelerate the Northern Forest Bioeconomy through innovation, commercialization, workforce and community redevelopment

The FOR/Maine Coalition has been named by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The University of Maine was awarded the $500,000 grant to support the coalition to further develop and scale the forest bioeconomy in Maine and will advance to Phase 2 of the challenge competing for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

The coalition’s proposal, “Accelerating the Northern Forest Bioeconomy,” calls for the development of a Northern Forest bioeconomy cluster, representing an opportunity for rural, distressed communities in the Northeast hard-hit by the pandemic to build back better, cleaner, and greener through strategic investment in a sustainable transformation of Maine’s forest economy. 

The proposal builds upon the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) vision and strategic plan for diversifying the state’s wood products businesses, attracting new capital investments, and developing greater economic prosperity for communities impacted by recent mill closures. Coalition members are a subset of FOR/Maine comprising the UMaine (proposal lead), Maine Development Foundation (MDF), Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC), Four Directions Development Corporation, Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Northern Maine Development Commission, Maine Community College System and Maine Woodland Owners.