“Forest workers across the region are experiencing hard times,” said Fox. “These funds will put forest producers back to work and help them to improve their businesses over the long term.”
The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, based in Asheville, is providing nearly $2 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds for the economic stimulus effort being administered by LOSRC. Signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009, ARRA provides millions of dollars to jumpstart the economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the nation can thrive in the 21st century. The Southern Research Station awarded the ARRA grant to LOSRC in a competitive selection process.
“Across the country, the Forest Service is using ARRA funds to put Americans back to work and to help restore the economy,” said Jim Reaves, director of the Southern Research Station. “Here in Western North Carolina, our goal is to generate jobs by helping forest producers to improve their enterprises. We are delighted to be working with Land-of-Sky Regional Council on this important project that we believe will help stimulate the region’s economy.”
According to the LOSRC plan for administering the stimulus funds, groups of forest workers will work together to improve their competitiveness while sales are down. The goal is to help businesses to be more profitable as demand for forest products returns and the economy recovers. LOSRC seeks to help underemployed or unemployed forest workers with creative ideas about improving their businesses. The project could employ close to 100 forest producers to explore alternate approaches to production or marketing. For example, a group of loggers in the region may want to find ways to connect their products with green builders. Woodland herb producers may want to share drying equipment and introduce their own line of value-added products. LOSRC is cooperating with a number of organizations to implement the plan including the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, the NC Division of Forest Resources, the NCSU Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, and the Southern Forest Network.
To be eligible for the program, forest producers must be persons engaged in businesses that grow, harvest, process, market, or use timber and non-timber forest products. Proposals are due by 5 p.m. Eastern time on March 26. The maximum amount for any proposal is $100,000. More information about the economic stimulus effort and how to submit a proposal is available at: http://www.landofsky.org/planning/p_working_lands.html. This information is also included on another post on this blog at http://ncalternativecropsandorganics.blogspot.com/2010/03/wnc-forest-products-project-request-for.html.
Boone – La Quinta Inn & Suites 165 Highway 105 Extension Boone, NC 28607
Phone: 1-828-262-1234 for directions
March 16, 2010 from 4:00-6:00
Asheville – at Land-of-Sky Regional Council
339 Leicester Highway Asheville 28806
March 17, 2010 from 3:30-5:30
Directions at: http://www.landofsky.org/mainlinks/contact.html
Cherokee – at Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall
545 Tsali Blvd. Cherokee, NC 28719
March 18, 2010 from 4:00-6:00
Directions to Cherokee Meeting: Take I-40 west to exit 27 (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). Continue west on U.S. 74 past Waynesville, Sylva, and Dillsboro to exit 74, Cherokee. U.S.Hwy 441 will take you into Cherokee. Turn right at the “T” intersection juncture with Hwy 19. You will see the Oconaluftee River ahead. Just before you reach the river, turn left on Tsali Blvd. The Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds and Exhibit Hall will be on your left in approximately ¼ mile. Enter the Fairgrounds through the small walking gate at the parking lot and proceed ahead to the large Exhibit hall building.
LOSRC is a non-profit, voluntary association of local governments that manages regional projects and provides services to its members in the areas of planning, economic and community development since 1966.