From August 17-19, 2016, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) (part of the Department of Commerce) deployed an Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) to assist Maine’s struggling forest-based economy.
Over the course of the three-day tour, participating federal agencies, along with key members of the forest-products industry and local community development officials, traveled together to see firsthand the various components of the forest-product ecosystem.
The EDAT team engaged closely with businesses and communities that have been deeply affected by the economic transition and transformation occurring throughout the state. EDAT members met with local, small and large land owners and loggers, toured a saw mill and state of the art paper mill, visited a small woodlot, and saw multiple shuttered facilities, including a biomass facility and two former paper mills.
The team also met with many community leaders to discuss the effects the struggling industry has on towns and communities, and the various approaches to grow their economies.
At the end of the process, EDAT members came away with a clear sense of the federal programs available that could provide much needed assistance.
The meaningful dialogues and engagement during the three-day visit will be used to develop an action plan and report that will align specific federal resources and partnership opportunities with the ideas and needs uncovered during the visit.