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Hardwood Development Council works to expand Pennsylvania industry.

Development, expansion and promotion of the hardwood industry are primary goals of the state's new program.

Legislation creating the Hardwoods Development Council was passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by Gov. Robert P. Casey in October 1988. The legislation called for a 21-member council that is responsible for the development, expansion and promotion of the hardwood industry in the Commonwealth.

The council is chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and includes the Secretaries of Agriculture and Environmental Resources. In addition, there are four legislators on the council. Other members include the state forester and 13 individuals appointed by the governor representing the forest industry, regional hardwood utilization groups, Pennsylvania State University, the U.S. Forest Service, the Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

The council meets quarterly to review ongoing activities and to make recommendations on issues affecting Pennsylvania's hardwood industry.

Shortly after its formation, the Hardwoods Development Council funded a comprehensive needs assessment of the industry to develop a long-term strategy for the Hardwood Initiative. Over a period of two months, industry experts from across the nation were brought to Pennsylvania for three-day visits. While in Pennsylvania, these experts met with representatives from government, education and the forest products industry where a range of topics affecting the industry was addressed. The needs assessment process resulted in a 56-page document, which contained numerous findings and recommendations, including:

* Define a coherent strategy for the Hardwood Initiative -- The Hardwoods Development Council should define a coherent strategy for the Hardwood Initiative, based on a market-driven strategy with a global focus. Programs in support of the initiative should focus on enhancing the competitiveness of existing firms and should encourage these firms to integrate vertically toward greater value-added manufacturing. The initiative should enhance the resource based through comprehensive resource management programs aimed at all landowners.

* Develop a mission statement for the Hardwoods Development Council -- The strategy developed for the Hardwood Initiative should be expressed in a mission statement for the Hardwoods Development Council. It should incorporate the job-creation intent of the legislation, with emphasis on retention and expansion of existing firms and the need to protect the resource base.

* Plan for successful programs -- The Hardwoods Development Council should develop a strategic plan for the Hardwood Initiative, using its mission statement and the finding and recommendations of the Needs Assessment Report. The council should develop specific goals and define strategic projects with concrete objectives, identify and prioritize action items and assign responsibility. The council should build quantifiable measures of success into all of its programs.

* Establish an interagency team of specialists -- The Department of Commerce and other agencies should explore the merits of establishing an interagency team of specialists devoted full-time to forest products industry development, with primary responsibility for retention and expansion of existing firms.

* Improve industry directories -- The Council should fund an effort to improve the industry directories now maintained by the Bureau of Forestry. Improvements should include adding more detail, a cross-reference by product types, and an update of the contents and availability of directories on computer.

* Prepare a Pennsylvania Timber Products Economy Report -- The Council should fund a Timber Products Economy Report, which will serve as a baseline study of the wood industry. The report should define the links between the industry and timber management and broader social and economic goals. The report should highlight the renewable nature of the forest resource, the importance of proper management and the numerous benefits provided by the forest to citizens of the Commonwealth.

Functions, objectives and goals

The Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council is responsible for the development, expansion and promotion of the hardwood industry. A primary activity of the council is to encourage primary processors of hardwoods to expand into secondary processing or develop value-added manufacturing processing systems that create employment opportunities for citizens of rural Pennsylvania.

To achieve this purpose, the Council has established the following goals:

* Improve the coordination between state agencies, local development organizations and universities as they relate to hardwood activities.

* Recommend policies that will improve the business climate in Pennsylvania for hardwood companies.

* Coordinate the delivery of existing state programs to hardwood companies while maximizing the utilization of the hardwood resource.

* Actively promote the commonwealth as a good place to do business and Pennsylvania hardwood products as the highest quality hardwood products available.

* Improve the competitiveness of Pennsylvania hardwood companies through developing technology transfer programs, sponsoring basic and applied research programs promoting vocational education at the secondary and post secondary level, and market analysis of domestic and international markets.

* Ensure the availability of a quality work force and improve training and skill levels of those employed by the hardwood industry.

* Assist the hardwood industry to become more organized and visible not only in Pennsylvania, but domestically and internationally.

* Assist the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry in the management of the state's forest resources in order to maintain environmental quality and to provide a stewardship ethic that guarantees a sustainable resource for the future generations.

Activities, actions and programs of the HDC

Since the fall of 1988, Pennsylvania has developed and implemented an aggressive marketing campaign to promote the Pennsylvania hardwood industry and the commonwealth as a good place to expand or locate a forest products business. A primary objective of the marketing effort has been to encourage the expansion of existing Pennsylvania firms while working with out-of-state companies that express interest in locating in Pennsylvania.

More than 5,000 copies of the "Welcome to Hardwood Country," the commonwealth's hardwood brochure, have been distributed.

A special Hardwood Initiative edition of the Pennsylvania Forest magazine, published by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, was developed in 1989. More than 4,000 copies were distributed.

The comprehensive Pennsylvania Hardwood Advantage Notebook has been developed. The notebook includes information on Pennsylvania's forest resources, a hardwood industry profile and a description of organizations and programs that can provide assistance to hardwood firms.

A Pennsylvania hardwood exhibit with graphics has been developed and is used for both domestic and international trade shows.

Ads for industry magazine insertions using testimonials from hardwood company executives have been developed. These ads have appeared in trade magazines since 1989 and new ones are under development with the commonwealth's advertising agency.

A computerized mailing list of secondary wood products companies in North America has been developed for targeted mailing in an effort to generate a broader understanding of Pennsylvania's hardwood industry.

A logo identifying Pennsylvania hardwood as a quality item has been developed. The logo is used on the exhibit booth and in print advertising and has been made available to Pennsylvania companies for use in their promotional efforts and in general mailing.

The results of research funded by the Council have been made available to the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania through technical publications and a series of workshops that have been held throughout the state.

The Council provided support for the "Hardwood Forest Products Opportunities: Creating and Expanding Business" conference that was held in Pittsburgh, Pa., during October 1989. Nearly 200 people from 25 states attended.

A strong continuing education program identified as a primary need by small and medium-sized hardwood companies in the state has been developed. Without an adequately trained workforce, adequate business development information on new and emerging, manufacturing technologies and current marketing intelligence, many of Pennsylvania's smaller firms have difficulty competing in the increasingly competitive global market. Providing this information to the hardwood industry is a priority of the Hardwood Council. Information transfer in the form of published reports, technical assistance, trade show displays, seminars, workshops and continuing education programs has been provided throughout the commonwealth in an effort to strengthen the industry's competitive position.

In 1990 and 1991, a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was received and used to develop a major educational effort. A series of hardwood industry specific marketing workshops were held around the state. Other efforts funded through the ARC grant include a market analysis of the furniture, flooring, cabinet and millwork segments of the industry, a job analysis of work at all levels within the industry, the development of a comprehensive bibliography of logger training programs and an annotated review of industry literature.

A number of educational programs have been developed in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State University, School of Forest Resources, including:

* Landowner Workshops

* Emerging Markets Workshops

* Marketing Wood Products Workshops

* Exporting Wood Products

* Regional Roundtables on Regulations Affecting the Industry

* Low-Quality Underutilized Species Workshops

* Environmental Groups/Wood Industry Forum

* Entrepreneurial Development.

The statewide hardwood industry communication effort undertaken by the Council has been very well received by Pennsylvania's wood products industry. The Initiative, a statewide newsletter published every month, cuts across all processing and product lines. It provides information on a wide range of issues facing the hardwoods processing industry.

The Hardwood Initiative also has provided a steady stream of technology transfer seminars and informational or educational programs that provide information on research results developed as part of HDC funded projects. To date, there have been six regional seminars held throughout the state. The present plan of work delineates an additional eight seminars held throughout the state. With other technology transfer programs scheduled in the service areas of DVIRC and MANTEC, the two nearly formed Hardwood Utilization Groups.

The mission of the Hardwoods Development Council is to promote the value added segment of the forest products industry. An important part of that function is to promote and provide for the modernization of processing techniques. Included in this effort is the concept of flexible manufacturing and the development of economic competitiveness. The Council has provided for direct support to the industry by structuring a partnership with the Hardwoods Utilization groups, existing Local Development Districts, the Industrial Resource Center and the Industry. This support, along with a development grant from ARC, will be used to develop a statewide informational data base system, the PA WoodNet, that will allow for access to international and domestic trade leads, interaction by individual companies with each other and access to other research and library data bases. PA WoodNet is envisioned as the initial phase in the development of a wood products flexible manufacturing network for the Pennsylvania hardwoods processing industry.

The Council has been directly involved in the development of two special projects in the Philadelphia region -- Delaware Valley Industrial Resources Center and the Hardwoods Development Council, working with two groups of "high end" wood product manufacturing efforts in Pennsylvania. These efforts have resulted in a joint manufacturing effort to design, develop and produce high quality, one-of-a-kind furniture and the conceptualization, design, critique/redesign and final manufacture of a finely crafted Pennsylvania black cherry computer center cabinet. The furniture and the computer center were showcased at "The Vassar House" Furniture Show in Philadelphia. The furniture was also exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City in May with the direct result that $22,000 in sales was generated.

Several other efforts by the Council have produced tangible and direct results for the industry. Participation in international and domestic trade shows has resulted in more than 2,000 leads which have been sent directly to the industry. In addition, at many of these shows, the council has provided space for participating companies to "show" their Pennsylvania hardwood products. Continuing participation in these trade show efforts is a primary activity of the Council with the development of sales of hardwood products for Pennsylvania companies the primary goal of that effort.

Efforts by the Council to promote coordinated industry expansion rather than single location projects have been a goal of the Council since its inception. Underway are studies and proposed projects that could lead to industrial or manufacturing complexes built around a primary wood processing facility. In this respect, the Council is assisting and collaborating with Pennsylvania's local, county and regional economic development organizations.
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Title Annotation:Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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