By Michael Bonner / firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 16, 2017 at 6:12 PM
For about eight hours Thursday, the SouthCoast replaced Boston as the state’s hub for Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito led the administration’s cabinet to the region beginning with an 8 a.m. stop at the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Westport and ending with a ribbon cutting of the new refrigeration system at State Pier in New Bedford.
“This is an area of our state that has tremendous natural assets and has great leadership assets,” Polito said. “Together, state and local, we can work to catalyze private development to unleash even more potential.”
Polito also visited UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology, where she held a cabinet meeting, cut ribbon at the New Bedford Regional Airport and noted the progress of Noah’s Place Playground on Pope’s Island.
“I come away knowing that this area of the state should be a center for marine sciences,” Polito said. “And I believe that coupled with their manufacturing base, they can create a lot of opportunity right here locally.
So happy, so cold
Coats were required indoors as state Reps. Tony Cabral, Robert Koczera, Chris Markey and Bill Straus joined Polito in the refrigerated section of State Pier, which was filled with pallets of clementines.
“I never thought I’d be so happy to be so cold,” Polito said.
Thursday’s temperatures in the mid-40s meant some of the fans within the facility weren’t needed. But in the summer, the refrigeration, which cost about $3.5 million to install, will allow perishable items to be stored and create jobs in the city.
“From our point of view, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is catching up,” said President of Maritime International David Wechsler, whose company stores and transports the clementines. “We’re competing with the ports of Philadelphia and Wilmington.”
Polito sliced through the red ribbon to officially unveil new markings on runway 5-23 at New Bedford Regional Airport. Officials like Rep. Bill Straus looked outside to show why the markings are so vital. Dreary weather like Thursday’s rain makes its essential for airports to display proper and visible markings.
“This investment, we hope and trust, will leverage additional investment not only by the city but by private companies that make use of the airport,” Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack said.
It’s one project of many taking place at airport.
The state announced the $216,000 in funding for the markings in September, and the FAA announced $6.6 million to repair runway 14-32.
The renovations will help the airport expand its air traffic and passenger load.
‘The best time’
Secretary of Energy and Environment Matthew Beaton told students at New Bedford High School they’re living in one of the most exciting times in the history of clean energy. He and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta met with a group of students who will leave the high school with six college credits.
The secretaries highlighted the points of clean energy.
“You’re at the best time of your life in taking advantage of these opportunities,” Acosta said.
The class will have the opportunity to intern with Siemens and Eversource.
Stephen Pike, CEO of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, asked the students not to forget him or the growing industry looking for architects to help build in the future.
“It’s a brand-new industry,” Pike said. “It doesn’t exist in the United States.”
UMD’s SMAST hosted Polito and the administration’s cabinet at 10 a.m.
Mayor Jon Mitchell addressed the cabinet, saying the city must focus on its strengths: fishing, offshore wind and State Pier.
“The investment the state made here … is huge,” Mitchell said. “This is a big deal. It’s a big deal if you think about it in terms of economic growth.”
New Bedford recently retained its title as the most valuable port in the country for the 17th consecutive year.
SMAST provided two presentations to Polito and the state’s secretaries regarding commercial fishing, too.
The first explained why NOAA states cod is at an all-time low, while fishermen say they’ve never seen more of the groundfish.
The presentation answered the debate by saying each side is correct. Cod has decreased as much as 81 percent when including the closed areas, which fishermen aren’t allowed in. The presentation said because the decline is primarily in closed areas, fishermen would have no way to be aware of the issue.
The second presentation showed how video cameras can help stabilize fishing stocks like what’s been done with the scallop industry.
Cameras on nets are helping researchers identify fish stocks and better understand the number of fish in an area. Computers are making those calculations easier to process.
Regarding offshore wind, Laura Douglas and Paul Vigeant, both of Bristol Community College, presented why Massachusetts should be looked at as the leader in the industry.
Vigeant projected the wind energy is expected to produce 43,000 jobs by 2030 with a median income for a person servicing a turbine of $52,000.
Investing in SouthCoast
Polito divided her speech at the SouthCoast Chamber’s annual meeting in Westport into three segments: leadership, investments in people and investments in places.
“The fact that we were able to engage in conversations and meetings with local officials,” Polito said. “How when local government and state government works together it can be very powerful.”
She also spoke on the power of Massachusetts’ school systems. She praised Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, specifically.
“What we want to see in the classroom is more of what we’re seeing in the workplace,” Polito said.
In terms of investments in places, Politio said no region should dominate the “blue economy.” The Baker administration is committed to connecting that economy to Boston, as well, with South Coast Rail.
“It is our administration’s priority that this becomes a reality in the next five years,” Polito said. “We are 100 percent committed to connecting the SouthCoast to Boston and Boston to the SouthCoast.”