The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded nearly $450,000 in federal funding to the Maine Development Foundation to support and assist the economic efforts of rural Maine communities that have been negatively affected by mill closures.

The foundation will use the funds to continue providing support and access to expertise and investment opportunities to over a dozen forest mill communities across Maine as they work locally to sustain and attract the next generation of forest economy businesses and redevelop to build resiliency and diversification, said President and CEO Yellow Light Breen in a statement.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a joint statement that many Mainers have long relied on the forest industry to support their livelihoods and provide for their families.

“We welcome this funding, which will help the Maine Development Foundation continue its important mission to support Maine people and rural communities, and create new opportunities for those who work in Maine’s forest products industry,” they said.

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