NEW BEDFORD — With New Bedford focused on offshore renewable energy as part of its plan to establish the city as the leading ocean economy on the East Coast, key partnerships continue to be formed.
A delegation of 15 Belgian businesses visited New Bedford Friday as part of a larger Belgian Economic Mission to the United States organized by the trade association Flanders Investment & Trade and the Consulate General of Belgium.
The New Bedford Ocean Cluster hosted the delegation at the New Bedford Whaling Museum Friday. A port tour and a panel discussion on workforce development and training panel followed in the afternoon.
New Bedford Ocean Cluster Executive Director Jennifer Downing said New Bedford is well positioned for the wind turbine industry following a decade of work and dedication. Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind will deploy and stage projects out of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.
“New Bedford’s economy and culture has been long tied to the sea,” she said. “Our workforce here in New Bedford knows how to handle onshore and offshore operations, they know how to weld, they know how to perform as electricians, captain vessels and handle heavy equipment. They understand how to work on and off the water and how to handle the sea’s tough conditions.”
She said the New Bedford area also has highly regarded academic and workforce institutions that are actively preparing students and workers to be part of the offshore wind industry.
The New Bedford Ocean Cluster signed a memorandum of understanding with the Belgian Blue Cluster in Somerville Thursday night to formally express their mutual intention to explore collaboration and foster innovation and international trade.
She said they also have highly regarded academic and workforce institutions that area actively preparing students and workers to be part of the offshore wind industry.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said New Bedford is committed to working collaboratively with Belgium and other countries to establish partnerships so that they will consider opening businesses in the Port of New Bedford.
He praised the New Bedford Ocean Cluster’s commitment to its one-stop shop approach whereby companies just have to call Downing and have their questions answered and their needs met.
“After years of planning, hard investment in the port, government workforce training programs, getting everybody here in person, offshore wind is happening,” he said.
CEO Bill White of Avangrid Renewables, co-developer of the Vineyard Wind project and the leading offshore wind developer in New England, said the dream is starting to come true as evidenced by all the activity happening in New Bedford related to offshore wind.
“This is really the closest industrial port to these areas so you’re going to see an enormous amount of job creation, an enormous amount of economic investment, an enormous amount of homes powered by clean energy and will address the climate challenge,” he said.
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White has committed to building an Offshore Wind Control Center in New Bedford that will provide operations and control support for Avangrid’s 1.2-megawatt Commonwealth Wind and other projects.
The New Bedford Ocean Cluster was formally launched in 2021. The Belgian Offshore Cluster was established in 2017. The delegation from Belgian was the third foreign trade mission of the year following visits from delegates from Denmark, North England and Wales.
Standard-Times staff writer Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.
This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: New Bedford hopes to create new opportunities with Belgium