WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King have announced $2,498,588 in federal funding to strengthen Maine’s forest products sector and expand markets for the industry.

The investment from the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Grant and Community Wood Grant programs will help Robbins Lumber of Searsmont and three other businesses across the state invest in high-demand 21st century forest products like cross-laminated timber, new pine resources, and wood biomass fuels.

The funding was requested by Collins and King earlier this year and builds on the work of the state’s Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative, which has worked to expand economic opportunities for the forest products industry.

“The future of Maine’s forest products industry is bright. With new technologies like cross-laminated timber and biomass energy, the historic sector has a chance to overcome the obstacles of the last few decades and restore jobs in our state’s logging communities,” the senators said in the announcement.

“This new funding from the Forest Service will build on the momentum of the Maine forest industry’s comeback and provide critical support to four innovative companies that are finding new customers for our high-quality wood products. It’ll mean more jobs, more economic growth, and more Maine products around the globe. We’re proud to have supported this investment and look forward to seeing its impact in partnership with the FOR/Maine Initiative.”

Robbins Lumber will receive a $1 million Community Wood Grant.

“We are very excited to receive this grant and are grateful for the senators’ continued support of Robbins Lumber and Maine’s forest products industry in general,” said Alden Robbins, company vice president and chairman of the North Eastern Lumber Manufacturers Association.

“This grant will be instrumental in getting the maximum value out of the white pine resource, keeping Maine manufactured lumber competitive in the global market, and retaining good paying, foundational jobs in our area.”

A second Community Wood Grant, for $998,588, will go to Standard Biocarbon Corp. in Enfield for two PYREG pyrolysis units that can produce wood biomass for use in steam kilns.

In addition, two Wood Innovations Grants are being awarded: $250,000 to Dirigo Center Developers in Westbrook to build a cross-laminated timber tower and retail demonstration that will expand markets for Maine’s new forest products, and $250,000 to Maine Woods Co. in Portage to generate high-efficiency steam energy from wood biomass.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Grant and Community Wood Grant programs work with state and local partners to support projects that reduce fuels, improve forest health, reduce forest management costs, and promote the economic and environmental health of communities.

Collins, a Republican, and King, independent, have been staunch advocates for the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative, an industry-led coalition that is helping to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures.

The FOR/Maine Initiative was funded in part by the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by the senators in 2016 to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities.

In 2019, $8.1 billion in economic impact and 31,822 jobs were tied to Maine’s forest products sector — approximately $1 of every $25  of Maine’s GDP and one of every 25 Maine jobs, respectively.