It seems like many local projects would never get off the ground or eventually grind to a halt without grants, with money from numerous sources paying for everything from capital improvements to apprenticeships and child care programs.
Times-News staff writer Greg Larry just reported that $265,000 in grants and other funding will be used by The Greater Cumberland Committee to find a way to broadly market timber harvested in Maryland.
That sounds like a great idea. We have rich natural resources, including plenty of wooded acreage from which trees can be cut to produce lumber for construction and pulpwood, and Lord knows our end of the state could use some good economic news.
Chainsaws are still buzzing and trucks are still hauling logs, but forest operations have slowed considerably and with good reason. Verso Corp., the last company to operate the mill at Luke, was the largest buyer of timber in the Free State. It takes a lot of wood to make paper.
The Greater Cumberland Committee primarily serves Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland, Somerset and Bedford counties in Pennsylvania and Mineral County in West Virginia. The nonprofit organization will combine a Rural Maryland Council grant worth $175,000 with $90,000 in matching cash and in-kind contributions to get the show on the road.
The group will promote Maryland wood products as a preferred option for commercial, institutional and retail buyers through what it calls a certified branding program.
In Larry’s story, Jennifer Walsh, executive director, said there is “an opportunity to take the lead on this important and visionary project with the goal of helping to open up Western Maryland forest product businesses to $3 trillion in corporate investments.”
Americans have become increasingly wary of products from overseas, especially from China, and have shown they don’t mind paying more for goods that originate in the U.S.
Managed forests are a reliable source of quality timber and their bark-covered bounty should be a boon for Western Maryland.