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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests to Implement Plan to Expand Forest Economy in Maine Opportunity Zone

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.1 million grant to the University of Maine in Orono to implement Maine’s Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) strategic plan. The grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $499,000 in state funds and $278,608 in local funds.

“The Trump Administration’s investment in Maine’s economy will help the state develop the next generation of sustainable, high-demand, and high-value forest products, increasing Maine’s economic competitiveness and supporting industry in a specially designated Opportunity Zone,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“EDA encourages investment in Opportunity Zone to not only enhance ROI for business interests, but also encourage the public/private partnerships needed to drive private investment to distressed areas,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. “This investment will implement a locally-devised plan aimed at growing Maine’s vital forest products sector and the Opportunity Zone designation will further incentivize businesses to invest in the area and develop the local economy.”

“Maine’s forests play a central role in our state’s economy,” said Senator Collins. “The substantial funding awarded today will help the University of Maine implement FOR/Maine, a strategic initiative that Senator Angus King and I have strongly supported to grow Maine’s forest products industry and create jobs in our rural communities. In addition, due to the creation of Opportunity Zones under the new tax law, the benefits of this investment will be magnified by attracting private funding.”

The funding announced today goes to a designated Opportunity Zone, created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page here. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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