Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are scheduled to join federal officials Friday in announcing a new initiative to help Maine’s flagging forest products industry.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine will join U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin to announce a multi-million investment to help rural communities affected by mill closures.

Since 2011, five paper mills in Maine have closed, resulting in the loss 2,350 jobs.

Erskine is also expected to announce deployment dates for a special team that will come to Maine to help address the state’s forest-based economic challenges, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Commerce. In response to requests from industry, the Maine congressional delegation and local leaders will bring together local, state and federal partners to build a strategy to foster innovation and commercialization for Maine’s forest-based economy.

The announcement is set for 1 p.m. at the University of Maine Orono campus. University President Susan Hunter will also be there.

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