CONCORD — The Northern Border Regional Commission announced the 2021 Regional Forest Economy Partnership grant applications are now available.

Eligible organizations, which include nonprofit and governmental entities (state, local and Indian tribes), will be able to access grant application details (available via the commission's website, nbrc.gov) beginning July 12. Total funding available for the program is $4 million, with a maximum award of $1 million, and a minimum award of $250,000.

Potential applicants must express interest through letters of interest, which must be submitted by Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. Letters of interest will be evaluated by a nine-member advisory board, consisting of representatives from each of the four the Northern Border Regional Commission states. The board will determine which applicants will be invited to submit a full application, which will be due Nov. 12, with anticipation of awards in January 2022.

The program will span two funding threads, which may or may not be considered mutually exclusive for purposes of a proposal:

1. New technology and innovations that seek to find new uses for forest products and evolve traditional forest economy business models into those that can create sustainable future commercial markets and opportunities. This category includes research and development at higher education institutions, entities such as the Northeastern States Research Cooperative or state, regional or municipal-based research divisions and departments.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

• Production of wood-based heating products.

• Production of “Mass Timber” products (e.g., Cross-laminated timber).

• Existing industry upgrades or transitions to more sustainable forest products.

2. Workforce retraining and development for the purpose of building the skills needed for forest industry businesses.

Examples include but are not limited to:

• Establish training and retraining programs to support workforce development.

• Coordination of collaborative efforts to identify strategic opportunities for economic investment supporting the redevelopment for former mill sites and communities.

• Development of targeted workforce programs to support identified employers’ needs for a skilled workforce.

“This year’s RFEP (Regional Forest Economy Partnership) will build on past investments to encourage continued innovation in the forest-based industry,” said NBRC Executive Director Rich Grogan. “Our region is full of great ideas and new approaches that we are eager to support.”

For those considering applications in 2021, contact the Northern Border Regional Commission Program Director Andrea Smith, The New Hampshire contact is Beno Lamontagne at (603) 419-9713 or benoit.l.lamontagne@livefree.nh.gov.

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