Today, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities released its third Request for Proposals (RFP). This RFP seeks to shed light on the status of business “clustering”within the forest products sector with a goal of identifying and encouraging further application of this model where appropriate. The notion of creating economic “clusters” is not a new idea in many sectors. In fact, before the age of cheap energy and global product transfer, clustering was common. Today, economic development circles promote “innovation clusters” or “sector clustering.” This RFP seeks to review clustering internationally and then identify opportunities and challenges for increased clustering within the U.S. forest products sector. “We are interested in understanding the extent to which an ‘ecosystem approach’ to clustering may exist,” said Diane Snyder, Vice President-Community Development. An ecosystem approach is seen as one that operates within a given area and within a given activity chain where the residuals or by-products from higher value products become the raw materials for a second set of products and so on until the final residual is used for fuel and/or energy production. For details view Requests for Proposals RFP 2008-003.

The Endowment today released its latest request for pre-proposals (RFP) as it seeks to add depth and inform direction for its focal initiatives. “If one is concerned about retaining working forest landscapes it is impossible to escape the foundational reality of the need for viable markets for wood and fiber,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen. “While our work must focus on the U.S., the reality is that there is one North American forest and many of the problems plaguing U.S. and Canadian landowners and producers are similar.” This study will look at the potential to draw learnings from successful agricultural check-off programs as one means that might provide new ways to retain and grow markets for locally produced products that serve to keep jobs in rural forest-reliant communities. For details on this RFP view the Requests for Proposals — RFP 2008-002.

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