PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition will receive approximately $41.4 million in grants to revamp the state’s timber industry, President Biden announced on Sept. 2.

The Port-of-Portland-led group of public universities and other government agencies was one of 21 winners to receive the funding. The grant money was awarded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge — an economic development strategy funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition said in a statement that it plans to use the funds to reduce the cost of building homes, create jobs and rehabilitate Oregon’s forests. The funding will also be put toward projects that work with rural, forest-dependent communities to facilitate wood resources and boost workforce numbers for building wood-based products.

A portion of the grant will allow the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to aid in the research and development of designing and prototyping new construction materials. The schools will also help state agencies develop regulations for modular, mass timber homes for rural communities that can be pierced together.

“The Biden Administration is committed to supporting communities as they create pathways for sustainable economic development,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a press release. “For many rural communities in Oregon, timber is a vital industry key to jobs, housing, and the environment. This investment will create new economic opportunities across Oregon to help it not only recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic but build back stronger and more equitably.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden praised the OMTC for receiving the award. The competition’s 21 winners were chosen from 60 finalists, which each received an additional $500,000 in funding to continue developing economic strategies in their regions. The original 60 finalists were chosen from an applicant pool of 529 regional groups vying for funding to create new methods for economic development.

“This federal investment shows how Oregon continues leading the way in modernizing wood products, generating jobs and economic opportunities in communities statewide,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified that the Oregon Mass Timber Coalition has earned these resources from the American Rescue Plan for fresh approaches to our state’s signature timber industry. And I’ll keep fighting for similar investments in Oregon to support these valuable new sources for jobs and building materials.”