The Star-Herald

Maine’s manufacturers lead the way

On the first Friday of October, cities, towns and entire states across America recognized National Manufacturing Day. This is a day where we honor the people and businesses that drive local economies, and celebrate the long, proud manufacturing history we share. When folks see ‘Made in Maine’ they expect — and get — a superior product; from boatbuilding and precision manufacturing to agricultural and forestry, our state is filled with manufacturers that play central roles in creating jobs and supporting urban and rural communities alike.

Our manufacturers aren’t just businesses — they’re pillars of their communities, supporting jobs and putting down roots. That spirit of truly living within the community is on full display at Tambrands in Auburn, which recently celebrated 50 years of manufacturing here in Maine. For the last half century, Tambrands has been a vital part of our state’s economy — and if you ever want to know the secret to why, you just need to visit the facility and see the staff at work. These folks are dedicated, innovative, and bright — they’re creating products used around the world, and supporting their local economy in the process.

The fact is that what we build matters to people — people not only in Maine, but across the country and around the globe. There is no better example of that importance than Bath Iron Works. As everyone knows, ‘Bath built is best built,’ but that slogan isn’t tied to the geographic location — it’s tied to the men and women of BIW, who represent the best Maine has to offer. They’re skilled and hardworking, which is why the Navy continues to turn to BIW for projects vital to our national security. And BIW is far from the only Maine manufacturer that supports our military — for example, Maine-made New Balance shoes are among those issued to service members beginning basic training, ensuring that our military members have high-quality, U.S. made athletic shoes as they are preparing to serve.

Ingenuity is, perhaps, the defining characteristic of our state. As the markets have changed, Maine has changed, and Maine people have adapted to new circumstances and continue to create high-quality products. That innovative spirit is one of the key traits of Maine people, and is a vital tool for our forest products industry as they adapt to shifting market demands. Our state is blessed with vast forests, which for generations have provided the foundation for economic prosperity in our rural communities — but in recent years, the industry has faced mill closures and economic challenges.

As a result, community and industry leaders have joined with government officials at the federal, state, and local level to find new opportunities for our forest products economy. This collaboration resulted in the Forest Opportunity Roadmap Initiative, also known as FOR/Maine. This effort, supported by funding from the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Maine Timberlands Charity Trust, lays out a series of recommendations to grow the forest economy by 40%. This is, in a nutshell, the strength of Maine’s manufacturing industry — it is a joint endeavor, bringing together communities and businesses to create the best products and support Maine families. That’s what we’ve always been about, and that spirit will continue for years to come.

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