New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced $600,000 to support two new projects that will boost the state’s forestry and wood products sector. The Department is investing $500,000 in Cornell University’s Arnot Teaching Forest to improve and expand maple processing and increase efficiency in operations. An additional $100,000 will allow the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) to offer training opportunities in the industry. Both projects deliver on commitments outlined at the State’s first Forestry and Wood Products Summit in 2018.
Commissioner Ball said, “These new programs will help grow New York State’s timber and forestry sector, which is a major component of our agricultural economy upstate. The programs provide the critical links between education, training and research that are needed for a successful, modern-day forestry industry and enhance the workforce pipeline from student to forestry and wood products producer.”
Arnot Teaching Forest Project
The Arnot Teaching Forest project will provide critical renovations, equipment upgrades, the construction of a research kitchen, and the creation of a modern sugar house for expanded processing and research by Cornell University’s Maple Program. The forest, operated by the Department of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, spans 4,200 acres. Located about 15 miles from Ithaca, Arnot is used for teaching and for Cornell Cooperative Extension activities and research. It is also home to two maple syrup research facilities.
The funding is being provided from the Southern Tier Agricultural Infrastructure Program, which complements the region’s Southern Tier Soaring plan to grow agriculture and advance the economy.
Workforce Development Project
The funding provided to the WDI from the New York State Wood Products Development Council leverages $521,000 in federal assistance from the Northern Border Regional Commission in support of the forest industry in the North Country and throughout the State. The project will assist loggers, sawmill and transport companies, foresters, and wood products manufacturers to participate in expanded workforce development programs, including:
- Troops to Timber, a collaboration between WDI, Paul Smith’s College, and Fort Drum. Troops to Timber teaches transitioning soldiers about opportunities for second careers in forestry and provides hands-on experiences through a series of workshops. The program is expected to benefit up to 80 students.
- Paul Smith’s College Summer Logging Training program. Funding will enhance this existing program, which provides hand-on training and connects students to viable internships that can lead to successful careers in logging.
- New York Logger Training (NYLT). The NYLT program provides educational skills and training for the forest products industry, including foresters and sawmill companies, in New York State.
WDI Executive Director Ed Murphy said, "Strengthening New York's wood product industry is essential to creating and sustaining family-supporting jobs. The Workforce Development Institute is proud to play a key role in this effort led by Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball. "
Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Kathryn J. Boor said, “Cornell’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest generates innovative research and delicious new products that fuel New York’s powerhouse maple industry, which has seen an incredible 91 percent increase in market value over the last five years,” said from “This funding will support important upgrades to enhance our maple research on behalf of New York State.”
New York State Maple Producers’ Association Executive Director Helen Thomas said, “The NYS Maple Producers Association wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner Richard Ball for believing in NYS Maple and the influence it has on the New York State economy and agri-tourism. Thanks to their support, the Arnot Maple Research Center, which was in desperate need of a renovation, will be revamping to incorporate modern technology. This advancement will position NYS as a leader in maple research both nationally and internationally.”
Empire State Forest Products Association Executive Director John Bartow said, “Strengthening efforts to retain and increase workforce in the wood products and forest sector is essential to sustaining and growing our forest-based economy in New York. We applaud Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball for their continued follow-through from the Forestry and Wood Products summit. This commitment to workforce development, from the forest to the mill, helps ensure that we have the essential infrastructure to develop and grow our bio-economy in New York State.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “These grants support New York’s commitment to sustainable forest management and to maintaining the health, productivity, and overall integrity of our state’s public and private forests. Products derived from wood harvested from forests in New York are beneficial through their contributions to the economy, environment, wildlife habitat, recreation, carbon sequestration, and overall forest health. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, continued investments like these will help ensure that we are managing forests in a way that will provide these benefits and combat climate change for generations to come.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “New York timber is a key to the state’s strong agricultural economy and this funding for research and workforce development will further strengthen the forestry and wood products industry, balancing both economic growth and environmental sustainability.”
The Wood Products Development Council supported the first-ever Forestry and Wood Products Summit in 2018 to advance New York’s forestry industry. Members of the Wood Products Development Council, academia, local government, and the industry met with state officials to identify growth challenges and explore new opportunities for New York’s forest and wood products businesses. During the summit, several initiatives were announced to help strengthen the sector, including funding to support the growth of the maple industry, increased promotion and marketing efforts, expanded research and enhanced workforce development.
New York State receives significant benefits from its forest industry. The sector includes forestry and logging, solid wood products, pulp and paper products, and wood furniture. In 2016, New York’s forest economy generated $13.1 billion in direct output. Forestry provides more than 40,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in direct labor income, with average annual earnings of $61,526 per worker.
About the Council
Established by statute within the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Wood Products Development Council is tasked with supporting and encouraging the practice of sustainable forestry and the manufacture of wood products. The Council works to improve public understanding and appreciation of New York’s forests and forest products, and to direct attention and funding to programs and ventures that sustain existing forest product markets and promote the development of new markets.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements “Southern Tier Soaring,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $7.4 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan – attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.