A Forest Service Recovery Act grant to the Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC) to implement the Western North Carolina Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project has provided the momentum to help local businesses expand and diversify while offering producers and consumers a practical means of finding one another.
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.
Through a competitive process, 14 western North Carolina businesses received sub-grants to expand into new product lines, improve marketing, and provide workforce training. Funding these businesses has directly contributed to job growth and the overall supply chain of forest products in the area.
The $1.9 million Recovery Act stimulus grant was made through the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station.
“This has been a win-win partnership with Land-of-Sky and Western North Carolina communities. The forest industry has been severely impacted by the economy and this project has led to over 160 jobs for under-or unemployed forest producers,” said Forest Service Southern Research Station Assistant Director Susan Fox. “I believe these projects are creating momentum for the forest products industry and the economy of Western North Carolina.”
Each of these businesses currently purchases forest products directly from landowners, handcrafters, local sawyers, artisans, and gleaners. In addition, Recovery Act funds supported the compilation of the WNC Forest Resource Directory, an online source of forest management services and resources for owners of forestland in western North Carolina.
The Website offers numerous categories that list service providers, supplies, and other resources for managing small forest ownerships, including businesses who may be interested in purchasing timber and non-timber forest products.