The University of Maine System will receive a $454,532 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to create the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said Wednesday.

The center will help forest industry partners, trade organization, construction firms, architects and other stakeholders revitalize and diversify Maine’s forest-based economy by advancing new forest products technologies and bringing innovative mass timber manufacturing to Maine. It aims to boost the local and regional economy in Penobscot County and throughout rural Maine.

Funding is a direct result of the Economic Development Assessment Team’s January assessment that outlined strategies to leverage federal resources to redevelop former industrial sites and support the viability of affected mill communities to grow Maine’s rural economy. The EDAT was originally requested in March 2016 by Collins and King.

“Maine’s forest products industry helps drive local economies throughout our state,” they said in a joint statement. “By establishing the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, UMaine and its forest industry partners are furthering important work to discover innovative ways to develop new forest products from our natural resources.”

The team brought together local, state, federal and industry partners to foster innovation and commercialization for the future of Maine’s forest-based economy. The report released in January represented the culmination of those efforts and was accompanied by over $1.5 million in federal grants.

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