A plan to diversify and grow the state’s forest economy has been given a boost with a $1.1. million federal grant.

The money, matched by state and local funds, will be used to expand a coalition of businesses, communities, academia and government launched last year called Forest Opportunity Roadmap/Maine – FOR/Maine – that aims to grow the state’s wood products economy by 40 percent over the next five years.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Grant to the University of Maine will be matched by $499,000 state dollars and $278,608 in local funds, according to a news release Wednesday.

The money will move the coalition into the second phase of the project, said organization Chairman Steve Schley. Projects include marketing, matchmaking, workforce development and landowner forest management. Goals include commercializing new uses for wood and making Maine a global forest products innovation hub.

“FOR/Maine is excited to implement strategies to diversify products and profit streams that will strengthen employment and innovation opportunities for rural Maine,” Schley said in a statement.


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