A Collaborative and Strategic Effort to Reinvigorate Maine’s Traditional Industry
The forest products industry has a long and proud heritage in Maine, and remains a significant economic driver in the state’s economy. In 2016, the total economic impact of the forest products industry is estimated at $8.5 billion, with more than 33,000 total jobs for Maine people.
At the same time, rapid marketplace changes have led to the closure of five pulp and paper mills and two biomass electric facilities and related declines in forest manufacturing and harvesting. The result is that Maine has lost 50 percent of its softwood pulp market in the last two years. Between 2014 and 2016, the total economic impact of the forest products industry fell from $9.8 billion to $8.5 billion, and more than 5,000 jobs were lost. Rural Maine communities where mills have closed are experiencing high unemployment rates, loss of population, and significant basic infrastructure challenges.*
In this environment of rapid change, the Maine forest products industry is looking to strengthen and diversify to ensure the success of the forest economy in the future and strengthen economic opportunities in rural communities across the state. The global forest products industry is changing, and if Maine adapts quickly and strategically, we can maintain our leading role in a global forest economy.
In the spring of 2016, members of the forest products industry, affected communities, and other stakeholders came together to develop shared strategies to strengthen and diversify Maine’s forest industry and rural economies.
Road Map to the Future
We envision a thriving and diverse forest products industry
that provides good jobs in vibrant rural Maine communities.
Together, the priorities outlined by the Forest Economy Growth Initiative are intended to achieve the following goals:
Goal 1. Sustain Maine’s existing forest products businesses
Goal 2. Attract capital investments and develop greater economic prosperity in the forest products sector across the State for both existing and new businesses
Goal 3. Support the revitalization of Maine’s rural communities as places where people want to live, work and visit
The Maine Forest Economy Growth Initiative has identified nine actions Recommendations to diversify and strengthen the forest product industry.
With support from Maine’s Congressional delegation and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the initiative’s goal is to address all nine actions by 2019.
Priority A. Conduct a global market assessment to assess future demand for Maine wood products.
Priority B. Conduct a statewide wood supply analysis to attract new markets.
Priority C. Conduct a transportation analysis to determine where infrastructure improvements are necessary to increase profitability for the forest products value chain.
Priority D. Support and grow markets for low-value, underutilized wood and biomass utilizing Combined Heat and Power (CHP) biomass plants, micro-grids, and modern thermal systems.
Priority E. Invest in the research, development, and commercialization of emerging wood technologies such as forest bioproducts as an opportunity for the utilization of low value fiber.
Priority F. Support small landowners who want to grow and harvest more wood.
Priority G. Invest in logger and forest products workforce development.
Priority H. Redevelop and reutilize or repurpose Maine’s closed mill industrial sites.
Priority I. Diversify and strengthen Maine’s rural economy.
Success will be measured by the following outcomes:
- Employment: Sustain and create job opportunities in the forest products industry
- Diversification: Invest in new value-added forest products
- Exports: Increase value-added forest products exports
- Income: Increase per capita personal income in Maine’s rural communities
*Source: Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Commerce Department to Establish Economic Development Team to Strengthen Maine's Forest Economy and Assist Rural Communities Impacted by Mill Closures
June 30th, 2016