During his balanced budget presentation to the state’s Joint Budget Committee on Jan. 11, Gov. Asa Hutchinson proposed $841,000 funding for the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“We have $841,000 in the budget, which is a new item, for the UAM College of Forestry in Monticello,” Hutchinson said. “This investment will support the all-important timber industry in South Arkansas and help us to stay on the forefront of innovation in that important economic driver in our state.”

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The proposed funding will support the Arkansas Center for Forest Business, housed in UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and directed by Matthew Pelkki. The center provides technical assistance for market-based solutions to forest resource challenges, programs for degree and post-baccalaureate education, and information on timber supply, forest products markets, and operational efficiency.

“When fully funded, the center anticipates hiring an additional three to four PhD-level technical experts in forest products marketing, forest finance and taxation, supply chain management, and global trade/policy,” Pelkki said. “The Arkansas Center for Forest Business will work cooperatively with state agencies (i.e., Department of Agriculture, Economic Development Commission), other universities (i.e., UA’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, UALR/UAF/ASU engineering programs), UAM’s School of Business, local economic development agencies, and importantly, existing forest landowners, loggers, mills and wood products consumers to advance and increase the markets and use of sustainably produced wood products.”