NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — An empty waterfront building that used to be a fish house is set to be transformed into a facility that will train future workers in the offshore wind industry.
The leaders of Bristol Community College on Thursday gave elected officials a tour of the roughly 30,000-square-foot building, located on Herman Melville Boulevard, that will house the future National Offshore Wind Institute (NOWI), and showed them renderings of their plans for the site.
BCC President Laura Douglas told 12 News she hopes to have the facility in operation by next spring, in collaboration with the Denmark-based company Maersk Training. Among other features, the facility will have a deep-water pool to train workers on safety and rescue protocols when they’re out to sea.
“The offshore wind sector is poised to create thousands of job opportunities across a wide range of industries and Bristol’s NOWI will provide a critical component of the offshore wind sector’s infrastructure,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, Congressman Bill Keating and Congressman Jake Auchincloss were on hand for the tour, along with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. The four Democrats all expressed enthusiasm for the economic development potential of offshore wind in the region.
Markey hinted that there could be major news in the coming days regarding Vineyard Wind, a major offshore wind project that is awaiting final approval.
“When Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick by the light of a whale-oil lamp, Massachusetts was the nation’s leading power producer,” Markey said. “Once again, New Bedford shores will launch the world’s energy revolution — this time with clean, renewable wind energy.”
Auchincloss added, “This is going to be a generational investment, and a generational hub in clean energy and economic development for Southeastern Massachusetts.”
Keating recalled a meeting he had with European CEOs who are investing in the wind industry, and said they told him the most important factor in their decisions about where to locate jobs will be the availability of a skilled workforce, even more than tax and regulatory considerations.
“New Bedford is noted for so many different things regionally, nationally — it will also be well-known internationally as a center for the work we’re doing here,” Keating said.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram