It’s been a busy few weeks for NMDC Staff. They are working on the USDA Rural Development grant that could bring major dollars in funding to the area. Executive Director, Robert Clark says, his group is applying for a designation as a manufacturing community. Clark says the application will be centered on forest products which has a high location quotient.
“The LQ is 55 which means our employment base is 55 times greater than the national average in forest products and employment. So we have a real good concentration compared to the national average, and we feel that forest products is the sector that we can certainly have the most economic benefit from,” says Clark.
The application that is filled out must include a complete local industrial ecosystem assessment by looking at key technologies and supply chains, and figure out where gaps exist, then fill those gaps with public investments.
“It’s forming a cluster around all the people involved. The manufacturers, the education, the finance institutions that make loans. It’s getting that cluster together to work together to improve manufacturing for our region,” says Robert Dorsey, APP President/CEO.
Clark says once they receive a designation as a manufacturing community, then they can go after federal funds to make infrastructure improvements and training program improvements.
“There will be 20 million dollars available for what they call challenge grants from the EDA, and up to 1.3 billion dollars available from 10 other federal agencies as supplemental assistance.”
There’s a 2 billion dollar forestry industry in Aroostook County, and Dorsey says this phase will give them the chance to expand it. The application for phase 2 must be submitted by March 14. After that, twelve finalists will be announced.