Governor Asa Hutchinson’s proposed budget includes $841,000 for the University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
During Hutchinson’s balanced budget presentation to the joint state budget committee on Tuesday, he offered funding for the UAM program, according to a news release.
“We have $841,000 in the budget, which is a new line item, for the UAM College of Forestry in Monticello,” Hutchinson said. “This investment will support the important lumber industry in southern Arkansas and help us stay at the forefront of innovation in this important economic engine of our state.
The proposed funding will support the Arkansas Center for Forest Business, housed in UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and led by Professor Matthew Pelkki.
The center provides technical assistance for market-based solutions to forest resource challenges, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate education programs, and information on timber supply, forest products markets and operational efficiency .
“Once fully funded, the center plans to hire three or four additional PhD-level technical experts in forest products marketing, forest finance and taxation, supply chain management and global trade/policy,” Pelkki said.
“The Arkansas Forestry Affairs Center will work cooperatively with state agencies (i.e. Department of Agriculture, Economic Development Commission), other universities (i.e. i.e. UA Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, UALR/UAF/ASU Engineering Programs), UAM School of Business, local economic development agencies and, most importantly, existing forest owners, loggers, sawmills and consumers of wood products to advance and increase markets and use of sustainably produced wood products,” said Pelkki.
UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss praised the collaborative efforts that led to Hutchinson’s support for the center.
“Funding for the Arkansas Center for Forestry Affairs at UAM is a testament to the impressive research that Dr. Pelkki and the entire College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources are already conducting for the state of Arkansas. Arkansas,” Doss said.
“Their commitment to finding new value-added wood products and bringing new wood industries to Arkansas is vital to the future economic development of Southeast Arkansas. This important project would not be possible without the assisted by the entire Southeast Arkansas delegation to the General Assembly, along with Reps. Ken Bragg and Lane Jean, and of course, Governor Hutchinson Future generations will look to the creation of this important center and will recognize this as the start of something special for Arkansas,” she said.