‘Taking it in’: Vineyard Wind wins offshore wind contract with Massachusetts

Vineyard Wind has been selected for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract, and Deepwater Wind will receive a contract from Rhode Island based on its Massachusetts bid, state officials announced Wednesday.

Together, their projects total 1,200 megawatts and establish a new industry in the region.

Vineyard Wind was awarded an 800-megawatt wind farm — up to 100 turbines — in federal waters about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Deepwater’s project, called Revolution Wind, will be half the size, located south of Little Compton, Rhode Island, and Westport, Massachusetts.

“I’m still at the point of … taking it in,” said Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind, minutes after the public announcement just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The two companies were competing with a third bidder, Bay State Wind, in a Massachusetts procurement process, mandated by state law, to provide power to the state’s electric companies. The electric companies selected the winners in concert with the state.

Massachusetts’ choice to award 800 megawatts to a single bidder, rather than split the work into two, came as a surprise to many and somewhat of a disappointment to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

“Overall, I’m pleased we’ve arrived at this day,” he said in an interview. He said the day marks an important milestone, but he would have liked to see two projects receive Massachusetts contracts in the first round.

“There would be a greater level of competition for investment commitments in the port,” he said. In addition, having two projects underway at once would be a hedge against one project’s delay holding up in the industry, he said.

Mitchell did not endorse a project. The city will work with any of the developers, he said.

Both of the companies that were not selected in Massachusetts had made specific financial commitments to local colleges, contingent upon winning a contract. Bay State Wind pledged $1 million to Bristol Community College to endow a faculty position in wind energy. Deepwater Wind committed $1 million for a research project called the Blue Economy Initiative at the University of Massachusetts, to be led by the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, which is in New Bedford.

Each of the three companies presented a package of enticements, some rolled out over time. For example, Bay State Wind offered $17.5 million for energy assistance and weatherization for low-income families.

Vineyard Wind’s enticements totaled $15 million: $10 million for a fund to develop the wind business supply chain in Massachusetts; $3 million to develop technologies to protect marine mammals from the effects of offshore wind construction; and $2 million to recruit, mentor and train in-state workers.

The mayor said the Massachusetts decision shows Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration chose mainly on price. Details of the pricing have not been made public. However, officials in the Baker administration did agree Wednesday that pricing was the most significant element, but not the only one.

Officials from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Energy Resources, who asked not to be named because the administration issued its official comments in writing, said a rigorous analysis of the bids gave Vineyard Wind the overall highest score in both qualitative and quantitative benefits — that is, price and other advantages.

Non-price factors included the effect on the economy and environment, the experience of the backers, and the construction schedule, they said. In addition, Vineyard Wind’s early timeline allows it to take advantage of a tax credit that would not be as generous later, they said.

The officials said they plan to work on new initiatives to address the concerns of fishermen, who have said the turbines could negatively affect the natural habitat.

Significant work lies ahead to reconcile differences with the fishing industry, Mayor Mitchell said.

Tony Sapienza, president of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said he was excited for the winners and “a little bit surprised” that Massachusetts didn’t go with two bidders. But he believes all three companies will be generating electricity in the region before the state finishes procuring the full 1,600 megawatts required by law.

“I think that’s a given,” he said.

All three bidders have room in their federal lease areas for more turbines in the future.

Derek Santos, the council’s executive director, said the city could still stage the installation of both projects from the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. All three companies committed to use the terminal for Massachusetts projects, but no such commitment applies to Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said “the overwhelming majority” of his project’s work will take place in Rhode Island.

Although New Bedford is not completely out of the picture, “clearly our principal commitment is to Rhode Island,” he said.

Still, Santos considers the award a positive development, and the council will continue to work to maximize the benefits to the port, he said.

Baker said in a news release that the announcement makes the state a hub for an emerging industry and brings it one step closer to “creating a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy future for Massachusetts residents, and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.”

In the Vineyard Wind office on Wednesday, employees fielded phone calls and planned to make a dinner reservation to celebrate, Stephens said.

“New Bedford’s going to be a busy place real soon,” he said.

For him as for others, getting a full 800 megawatts, instead of sharing the award, came as a surprise.

“I was hopeful we might get something,” he said.

Stephens said the company is excited to continue pursuing permits, surveying the ocean floor, and talking to potential suppliers. Construction could begin by the end of 2019.

Vineyard Wind is owned jointly by the Danish investment company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, a division of Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid, which is owned by Iberdrola of Spain.

Bay State Wind, which did not win a contract, issued a statement attributed to two people from its parent companies: Thomas Brostrøm, president of Ørsted North America, and Lee Olivier, an executive vice president at Eversource.

“We’re disappointed by today’s decision by the Massachusetts evaluation team,” they said in the statement. “We made a compelling offer to help the commonwealth meet its ambitious clean energy goals while maintaining strong financial discipline. Further, our proposal to interconnect our project into the former Brayton Point facility in Somerset, Massachusetts, would ensure clean energy delivery into one of the strongest connections on New England’s electrical grid.”

“We remain fully committed to our Bay State Wind partnership, as together we pursue future solicitations in New England and New York,” they said.

The award to Vineyard Wind is conditional upon the successful negotiation of a contract, and the deal must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. The schedule calls for contracts to be negotiated by July 2 and submitted for approval by July 31.

A 2016 state law requires electric companies doing business in Massachusetts — Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil — to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

Bay State Wind signs agreements to build training center in New Bedford


Bay State Wind has signed agreements to develop a training center for future offshore wind workers in the city, the company announced Monday.

Bay State Wind is a partnership between Ørsted and Eversource for an offshore wind project 25 miles off Massachusetts and 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Bay State Wind is one of three projects, along with Deepwater Wind and Vineyard Wind, competing in a state-led bidding process in which Massachusetts power companies will buy electricity from offshore wind. A 2016 state law requires power companies to buy long-term contracts for at least 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade.

Bay State Wind has signed agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Utility Workers Union of America and its Power for America initiative, and the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, along with Bristol Community College and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, according to a news release.

“We are very happy to be working with Bay State Wind, which is the only offshore wind developer that is committing to become a true Massachusetts company, by training and hiring local union labor,” said Mike Monahan, international vice president, second district, of the IBEW, in a statement.

The company said it expects to hire up to 1,000 workers during the construction phase and create 100 permanent jobs over the 25-year life of the turbines, with an operations and maintenance facility that also will be located in New Bedford.

If chosen by the state for the contract, Bay State Wind also has pledged $1 million to BCC, which will “endow a faculty position to help BCC, which would offer the only degree completion program in offshore wind … Bay State Wind will collaborate with BCC faculty and staff to train other teachers, to create an ambitious internship program and to build a new, national model for preparing the workforce for this growing industry and its supply chain,” BCC President Laura Douglas said in March.

“New Bedford has sent its people to sea for nearly 300 years, and in the process, became a global leader, first in whaling and then in commercial fishing,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell in a statement. “We see the establishment of an offshore wind training center here as an important step in staking our claim in the emerging offshore wind industry. We appreciate Bay State Wind’s commitment to preparing the industry’s workforce, and we look forward to working with our partners in higher education and organized labor to make the proposed center a reality.”

Bay State Wind already has signed an agreement with NEC Energy Solutions, headquartered in Westboro, to build a factory to manufacture storage batteries, according to the release. Last month, Bay State Wind reached an agreement with EEW, the international market leader in steel pipe manufacturing, to open and staff a plant to manufacture offshore wind components, in collaboration with Gulf Island Fabrication. EEW is considering a variety of sites, including locations on SouthCoast.

Original story here.

‘Lighting the Way’: Group sheds light on SouthCoast women

Posted Mar 5, 2018 at 2:19 PM

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe. And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. That when they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green.” — Committee Member Sarah Rose

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe.

And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

That’s why they’ve started “Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the South Coast.”

The massive interactive history project is aimed at shedding light on women’s roles in history and “unearthing remarkable stories of women’s personal callings that required grit, tenacity and enduring commitment to their families, community and country,” project designer Christina Bascom said.

Spearheaded by the Whaling Museum, the alliance of organizations and individuals on the Lighting the Way Committee is working together in a prodigious years-long plan to educate SouthCoasters about the strong women who helped shape our history.

Aspects of the project will unfold over the next two years, organizers said.

Staring in July, you’ll be able to download an app to your phone, or grab a map, and embark on a historic walking trail throughout downtown New Bedford, stopping at some 34 landmarks highlighting compelling women’s stories.

Also in July, you’ll also be able to click through Lighting the Way’s website, currently under construction, to learn stories of some 90 educators and philanthropists, abolitionists and crusaders for social justice, investors and confectioners, and more.

The committee also plans to create a companion curriculum for local schools.

And, coming in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights, they tentatively plan on unveil public art displays.

This project is not just for women, organizers were clear to point out.

“This is very inclusive and open to everybody,” said Bascom. “It’s a boon for historical societies and people who want to do research. We’re very careful to use words like ‘amplify history’ — this is not about creating a women’s history. This is about bringing balance to existing history. These women add so much color and dimension to the history of SouthCoast. It’s quite lopsided without them.”

Sarah Rose, a committee member and project leader, and Whaling Museum vice president of Education and Programs, had similar sentiments:

“We’re looking to bring life to women’s voices, to inspire generations. That’s why part of our mission is creating student curriculum — so students understand the contribution of women as significantly as they understand the contributions of men,” she said.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. When they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green,” Rose said.

“We’re really trying to stay away from criticizing history told to date— this isn’t women’s history, we’re just trying to fill in history,” Rose said. “We’re adding stories from the other fifty percent.”

There are some 90 women in total profiled as part of the project. Some lived in the 1700s; others died two years ago. Many came as submissions to the group.

If you’d like to nominate a woman of historical significance — one catch: they must be dead — contact Rose at the Whaling Museum.

Research into the women’s lives is being led by Whaling Museum research fellow Ann O’Leary, along with a team of some 10 researchers who assist her.

They have completed about 50 profiles, O’Leary said.

“All of the women rose up when they experienced or witnessed a need, and they pushed through obstacles and mobilized themselves and others,” said O’Leary, library media specialist at Bishop Stang High School and the Emily Bourne Fellow at the Whaling Museum.

Bourne is a woman of historical significance: Her gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1915 funded construction of the world’s largest ship model, the Lagoda, and the building that houses it at the Whaling Museum, the Bourne Building.

THE ROOTS

Shedding light on women’s role in SouthCoast history was a long-held dream of Bascom’s.

The Standard-Times 2008 Marion Woman of the Year, Bascom has been involved in numerous SouthCoast community projects — from helping to found the Marion Institute, to helping found Our Sisters School in New Bedford, among many other initiatives.

“For a long time, I tried to get someone to write a book about the historic women of SouthCoast,” said Bascom.

She said in late 2016, over lunch with Rose and then Whaling Museum President James Russell, “I said, ‘This is an idea I have kicking around,’ …and this thing started rolling, and we realized we wanted something more interactive.”

The plans for a website, GPS smartphone app, walking trail, and school curriculum grew from there.

Bascom said the interactive walking trail phone app will hopefully leave a lasting impact on young SouthCoasters.

On the app, which will work with a phone’s GPS, you’ll be able to see an interactive map indicating nearby “Lighting the Way” landmarks and points of interest, while providing links to images and biographies of the associated historical figures at each address.

For those who prefer old-school paper, there will be a printed map, as well.

“There’s a quote from an article in TIME I read, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ And to have young girls, and boys, going around and being able to see the history — that will hopefully leave a lasting impact for future generations,” Bascom said.

Rose added, “A cornerstone of this project is using stories of historic women to inspire generations to come.”

To get involved, contact Rose at srose@whalingmuseum.org, 508-997-0046 x118.

Lauren Daley is a freelance writer. Contact her at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer. She tweets@laurendaley1.

Original story here:

Southcoast Health honored among top hospitals for clinical outcomes

Posted Jan 27, 2018 at 3:01 AM

Southcoast Health has announced that it has received the 2018 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence from Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. The distinction places Southcoast Health in the top 5 percent for clinical excellence among nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide. This is the third consecutive year that Southcoast Health has received this recognition.

“When you spend time in a Southcoast Health facility, whether as a patient or a visitor, it is clear that the mission of our employees is to deliver both clinical excellence and personalized care that is unmatched,” said Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health. “Southcoast Health physicians, nurses and staff work tirelessly to achieve the very best results for patients, and I am pleased that this award from Healthgrades has further highlighted their tremendous efforts.

The 250 recipients of the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence stand out among the rest for overall clinical excellence across a broad spectrum of care. During the 2018 study period (2014-2016), these hospitals showed superior performance in clinical outcomes for patients in the Medicare population across at least 21 of 32 of the most common inpatient conditions and procedures — as measured by objective clinical outcomes performance data (risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications).

“We commend hospitals that have achieved Healthgrades 2018 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to high quality care for their patients,” said Brad Bowman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Healthgrades. “Hospitals that meet these high-quality standards will continue to distinguish themselves with consumers making decisions about where to receive care.”

In October, Southcoast Health was honored with 19 additional awards and recognitions from Healthgrades, including being named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care for the seventh year in a row (2012-18). In all, it was recognized for superior cardiovascular services with 11 awards, including the Healthgrades Cardiac Care Excellence Award for the 12th year in a row (2007-18). Southcoast Health also placed in the Top 5 percent in the Nation for Overall Pulmonary Services (2014-2018).

To learn more about how Healthgrades determines Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence recipients, please visit www.healthgrades.com/quality.

Original story here.

 

 

Business Newsmaker: Three New Bedford companies in spotlight at PGA Merchandise Show

Posted Jan 21, 2018 at 3:01 AM

When the PGA 2018 Merchandise Show, the industry’s annual “Major of Golf Business,” kicks off in Florida, three New Bedford companies will be prominently featured.

Titleist, AHEAD and Moby Dick Brewing Co. all are Orlando-bound for the 65th annual gathering, Jan. 23-26, that welcomes more than 40,000 golf industry professionals from all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries to the sprawling Orange County Convention Center, which will host more than 1,000 exhibitors.

As for the New Bedford contingent:

— Titleist will be front and center at PGA Show Demo Day, the world’s largest, on Tuesday, Jan. 23, featuring its No. 1 golf ball as well as its popular line of clubs.

— AHEAD – one of the country’s top brands for men and women with headwear, apparel and accessories – will be introducing its hot new selections for Summer and Fall 2018 in the PGA Show’s Fashion Forum.

— Moby Dick Brewing Co., which opened in the New Bedford historic district in spring 2017, will be launching and serving its new private-label Dogleg Ale at various events throughout the PGA Show’s four days.

“We all think it’s a pretty cool story that’s developing at the PGA Merchandise Show with the three New Bedford companies playing key roles,” said David Slutz, president, Moby Dick Brewing Co. “This is our company’s first time at the PGA Show and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to debut our Dogleg Ale, which we’re confident will get positive reviews.”

Anne Broholm, CEO of AHEAD, concurred.

“This is not only wonderful exposure for our individual companies but also for New Bedford,” she said. “This is truly the sport’s global stage where the excitement level is off the charts. I think it’s awesome that Titleist, AHEAD and Moby Dick Brewing Co. all are part of the world’s largest business-to-business golf event.”

Original story here.

Tony Sapienza proved quality clothing can be made in America

Updated Jan 13, 2018 at 8:47 PM

Manufacturing in the United States allowed Joseph Abboud Manufacturing to be nimble in an ever-evolving world of fashion — a strength not held by foreign competitors.

Decades ago Tony Sapienza shared some feelings of uncertainty with Matt Morrissey, who at the time was the executive director of New Bedford’s Economic Development Council.

The number of American clothing manufacturing jobs continued to decline as companies exported them to foreign countries.

“There was a sense of when was the last shoe going to fall in New Bedford,” Morrissey said. “That was very much in the thinking of that period.”

Sapienza feared Riverside Manufacturing Co. would be next. The facility, which now houses Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, under Sapienza’s guidance, wouldn’t be silenced.

“Tony was very instrumental in holding that together and realizing the value of the factory,” Joseph Abboud said. “You have 750 families there that maybe wouldn’t be there if Tony hadn’t sort of stuck through it and persevered. We owe him a lot. We really do. That’s a big statement.”

Joseph Abboud celebrated its 30th anniversary in New Bedford last year. Sapienza’s trust in the city, it’s workforce and his innovation preserved the factory.

As he looks toward retirement in 2018, the 70-year-old Sapienza, CEO of Joseph Abboud, is SouthCoast Today’s Businessperson of the Year.

“He is clearly the guy that deserves it,” Abboud said. “Because that factory could have easily been gone, which would have been a disaster.”

Sapienza, regardless of how dire the circumstances appeared, said he never entirely lost faith in New Bedford.

He trusted GFT (Gruppo Finanziaro Tessile), the Italian clothing company which owned Riverside. But even more he knew the workforce, made up of mostly Portuguese women, would prevail.

“Folks who came to this country as teenagers, as young adults, kids sometimes, but who grew up in a family environment where, first of all, there were needle trade skills, so they knew how to thread a needle and run a sewing machine and had a tremendous work ethic,” Sapienza said.

The addition of Abboud completed the ingredients for the resurrection of the manufacturing facility.

“He kind of synthesized the brand and the look and he was an American designer born in America, making clothing in America,” Sapienza said. “It was a great story you could tell about his commitment to being an American and being in the right place.”

But it was Sapienza who made the most out of those ingredients, both Morrissey and Abboud said.

During the 1990s it made business sense for companies to outsource jobs. Sapienza looked at having a facility in New Bedford as a positive, specifically in men’s fashion.

As the country exited the 2002 recession, Sapienza introduced an idea Americans take for granted in 2018.

“That was all about treating the consumer to the kind of (service) we’ve all become accustomed to,” Abboud said. “We go online. We order something and it shows up two days later. With men’s clothing we’re not quite as fast as two days later, but when you can get a product in two weeks or three weeks particularly made to your specifications, that’s a pretty good deal.”

Foreign competitors needed weeks to ship products to the United States. Joseph Abboud Manufacturing worked to provide customers with the quickest transaction possible.

“So we made significant investments in 2004 in efficiency and in getting the product to market that much faster,” Sapienza said. “That was probably the single most important additional thing that we as managers here in New Bedford were able to do.”

New machinery cut six days out of the production process.

Sapienza also brought the New Jersey distribution facility to New Bedford. It created upwards of 30 jobs and saved at least another week in shipping.

Often, shipments out of New Jersey required overnight shipping. Since Sapienza had streamlined production, overnighting packages wasn’t needed as often. Not only did Sapienza provide better customer service, he saved the company money.

Manufacturing in the United States also allowed Joseph Abboud Manufacturing to be nimble in an ever-evolving world of fashion — a strength not held by foreign competitors.

“We make a lot of high quality products offshore but there isn’t anything quite like what we do (in New Bedford),” Abboud said. “He was extremely instrumental in understanding the value of the factory to the brand.”

As early as 2009, Sapienza ushered one of the oldest trades in the world into social media.

“We realized we could do it on social media. It’s pretty cheap to do,” Sapienza said. “You don’t have to buy $20,000 ads in men’s magazines. You can blog and do a whole bunch of other stuff.”

As Sapienza steps into retirement, he sees the industry stepping into different, uncharted territory.

Malls are struggling. Brick and mortar retail may not have a future.

“Who could have predicted Amazon and Wal-Mart battling the way they are,” Sapienza said. “That you get your groceries from Amazon. It’s a whole new landscape out there.”

At his core, though, Sapienza believes tailoring is a craft done best with the customer present. That aspect will always steady any uncertain waters.

“I think we’ll see the best retailers are going to survive when they provide exemplary customer service and when they’re selling a product that needs a little bit of hand holding,” Sapienza said.

Abboud refers to Sapienza as royalty in the tailored clothing industry. The two met in their 20s. Sapienza worked at his father’s factory in Haverhill

“You can’t necessarily put down on a checklist, he’s a very special guy,” Abboud said. “I think he’s very connected with the community, committed to the community and I think that makes him. And he’s seen the world.”

Retirement or not, the world will see the chair of the Economic Development Council and trustee at the Whaling Museum and Bristol County Community College again.

“This isn’t the last of me,” Sapienza said. “You’ll see me.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT

Original story here.

 

30 years later, Joseph Abboud looks back at his brand in New Bedford

Posted Dec 29, 2017 at 4:57 PM
Updated Dec 29, 2017 at 5:38 PM

Joseph Abboud celebrated his 30th anniversary of clothing manufacturing in the city in 2017.

Abboud told stories of many smiles and some tears during the three decades. The clothing designer shared some of those moments as well as his favorite designs recently with the Standard-Times.

How has the industry evolved in the past 30 years?

The industry has really evolved in that there are fewer and fewer great men’s specialty stores and there are fewer and fewer department stores. So as part of Tailored Brands, our opportunity to be vertical is really, really important. So I see the changing landscape where there are so many holes in terms of where great retail is and we’ve tried to fill that gap with our Men’s Wearhouse stores as well as we’ve got our classic store on Madison Avenue. But we are retailers at heart, so we can go direct to the consumer. I can see that as the big play now. When I started, there were so many more people to sell. Now it’s a much different game.

What are some of your favorite memories in New Bedford?

I’ve got a lot of them. I may have said this to you when we’ve spoken before. When I cross the Massachusetts border and I’m driving on 195, you know, it’s really, I’m coming home. I always feel like I’m coming home. And a lot of magic happens in that factory in New Bedford. In a weird way, it’s where I feel my most comfortable in terms of creating the tailored clothing because I’m working closely with (Senior Vice President of Design & Quality) Salvatore Mellace and my team there. I’ve been doing that for so long there’s a comfort level. And every time I go to the factory, I discover something new that we can do there. It is really kind of a magical place.

Tony Sapienza described a moment where you returned to the industry after a brief hiatus and it was specifically in New Bedford that brought some tears. What was that moment like?

It’s so interesting because, I’m a fairly emotional guy. I always try to keep it in check but I am. The day that I walked back into that factory and they were all there to welcome me back in open arms grabbed me by surprise. I was really touched by it. I really did choke up on that because they were there, the same people that I had left were there to welcome me back. It was really like coming home again. You know, I’ll never forget that. I love the people in New Bedford, and the people in our factory. They’re such hard workers. They’re so dedicated. And they go into our stores, and they throw their chests out, and say, ‘I made that lapel’ or ‘I made that sleeve.’ They take such pride in what they do that it means so much to me. I’m so proud of them.

When was that?

I would say, oh, probably in 2013.

How long had you been away?

I would say, it was about, about eight years or so. So it was a while. But the factory continued to uphold the standards and the DNA of the Joseph Abboud brand and what I had created. I feel forever grateful. Because the real strength of our brand and the real anchor of our company is that factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, of the Joseph Abboud business. We have over 750 people there.

Why do you think that is?

Well, we started the business as an American designer with an American factory. And my partners who were Italian back then, they were also involved with Giorgio Armani and Valentino and they always believed that the designer should be making in the country he was from. So with Giorgio Armani making in Italy was important, and as we started and formed our business they really believed and I was 100 percent in agreement that we should make in America. As an American designer, we are the largest tailored clothing company in North America. We are the largest importing manufacturer of the finest Italian goods from Italy. Our custom business has really grown dramatically. We’re so proud of the quality of the fabrics we use but the quality of what we make with our New Bedford folks. To be the largest in North America under a designer name is pretty special.

I have to go back for one second. The 8-year hiatus, why did you step away?

There were some issues that I had with the prior management where I thought the brand was going in the wrong direction. I felt that it was time for me to walk away from it because I couldn’t support it or endorse it. But as Tailored Brands came in and we partnered on the idea of making Joseph Abboud the premier American designer brand and the idea that the factory was at the core of it, was so appealing. It was a wonderful homecoming.

That leads right into my next question, 30 years ago what did you envision from the brand and how does that compare to the reality of today?

The DNA is still very much the same, which is a modern American collection for all Americans. An inclusionary brand that was not a preppy traditional ivy league brand but a more modern worldly brand but still wasn’t some pseudo-European thing. It was truly an American brand. And that’s what it is today and I’m so proud of it. And so proud of the people, everyone who is involved. A lot of it is, obviously the strength of that is through our customers, it’s at the factory and the dedicated workforce that we have in New Bedford.

Something that popped out about your favorite lines was not only the designs but some of the textures. How do you go about picking some of those textures?

I always say that the texture of your clothes is like the texture of your life. That has been for me, to add dimension and personality to every piece I design. I always have believed that we want to give the customer more. We don’t want to give them less. So fabric is very important. The color of fabric is important. The linings that we use. The layering. There’s a richness to it that’s very masculine and very American but very approachable.

When you think about the American man, who are your designing for? Is the business class? Is it the working class? Is the guy going on the airplane? When you envision a suit, who is it for?

I think I believe in, it’s an overused word, but lifestyle. You know, I don’t think of one particular guy. I think of how a guy lives his life. How does the American man live his life? He has needs for tuxedos. He has a need for a dark business suit. He has a need for a softly constructed jacket. So I design for his lifestyle. I always used to say, if I think I need it, I think a lot of other guys need it. So I kind of use my needs and requirements as a guideline to what I think guys might want to have from a color point of view, from a silhouette point of view, from dressy to casual, from tuxedos to T-shirts. I’ve always looked at, my job is to make American men look and feel better about themselves. And that’s what designers are supposed to do. It’s not an ode to me by any means. My job is to really kind of honor my customer and really give him stuff that works in his life. That’s why I think we’ve had such a long run is because we’ve been very dedicated to our customer and their needs. That’s why I don’t use a lot logos on my clothes because I think labels belong on the inside of clothing not on the outside.

One thing we learned about the favorite designs is the women’s line. How did that come about?

Oh, that was really a special moment. My partners were Italian back then. They had wonderful factories in Italy. Unfortunately when they went through their financial crisis, they closed those factories down. We had that women’s business for about 10 years. It was a really beautiful collection but the quality was impeccable. And to this day, I’ve never been able to find the level of quality and craftsmanship in our women’s wear. So I haven’t done it. It doesn’t mean we won’t.

And also when you’re designing women’s wear, it also keeps you sharper for men’s wear. It’s a different mindset when you’re designing for women. It does. It keeps you on a much more heightened plane when you’re being creative. I sort of miss that part of it.

How does the inspiration alter from designing something for a man and designing something for a woman?

The thing that drives my brand has always been the textures and the fabrics. So when we did our women’s wear, it was basically with rich sumptuous fabrics but of course (in) the appropriate women shapes. So it differs more in shape. And women are much more experimental and will try things quickly. They’re newer to products. So it really was an exciting time for me. Yeah, that part of it, I miss. And so many women come up to us and say, ‘When are you going to do your women’s line?’ Because they love our fabrics. Never say never.

When was the decade of women’s clothing?

That was probably from 1992 to about 2003, 2004 in that area. Like I said, it does keep you very sharp. It really does.

In keeping in the designs you sent us, one that really stuck out with us was in 2016, the model with the black suit, the black American flag over his shoulder and the finger-less gloves. Where did the inspiration from that come from?

That was all about being proud to make in America. That was a runway look. So when you have a chance to do theatrics — and that’s what shows are about. Shows do have to have some theater. They have to have some drama. But that was one of my favorite looks because that flag was made in New Bedford, Massachusetts. That flag was sewn from all of my tailored sewing fabrics, and we now currently sell those as limited edition in my Joseph Abboud store here in (New York City).

Why did you want to tell that story at that particular show?

That was one of the first shows that we had done in a long time. And I wanted everybody to know that New Bedford could be as creative as Milan. And that what we do out of the tailoring and the custom details, I mean that was a beautiful show in terms of the energy of what we created and just showing a range of what we do in our factory in New Bedford and the Joseph Abboud Factory.

In the future, what do you see from the brand moving forward?

We talk about this corporately and Doug (Ewert), our CEO who has been an enormous supporter of the brand, has said our goal is to make it a billion dollar brand. So that’s our goal and move forward every day and we continue to see growth. Listen, there’s no straight lines to success. There’s always challenges. It’s climbing Mount Everest really. It’s kind of the quest is always (difficult). I love the journey. To get there is great but the journey is also very exciting. What’s at the next horizon? That’s what it is for me. I’m still challenged by it. I feel at the top of my game because my experience really does help me in terms of the confidence in the creativity. And that’s a very important thing. Having the confidence to know that you’ve done this, you’ve been through cycles. So it allows you to have more confidence in what you believe in.

Amazon bid shows new perspective on New Bedford

Posted Dec 16, 2017 at 8:31 PM

Don’t count us out.

That’s the message New Bedford’s civic leaders are sending as internet sales giant Amazon mulls over a proposal to site its second headquarters on a municipal golf course in this port city.

“Nobody should be under the illusion we’re the odds-on favorite,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said of the city’s attempt to woo Amazon. “But it’s not inconceivable that if Amazon decides to look for multiple sites, our pitch becomes more attractive.”

From Atlanta to Tucson, from Vancouver, Canada to Chihuahua, Mexico, cities throughout North America are hoping to be on top of Amazon’s list when the company announces the city chosen as the home of its second headquarters later in 2018. The location of Amazon’s new campus, dubbed HQ2, will be selected from 238 cities and regions spanning 54 states, provinces, territories and districts. In Massachusetts, 26 communities, including New Bedford and Boston, are in the running. The winning city gets a $5 billion facility, 50,000 high-paying jobs and an economic boost like no other.

So where does New Bedford fit in the race to become Amazon’s second headquarters?

Karyn Polito: State, SouthCoast working to ‘unleash’ region’s potential

City’s art museum hires UMD grad as new executive director

Nov 6, 2017 at 9:12 PM

Ashley Occhino, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduate, has been named as the new executive director of the New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, officials announced Monday.

“I’ve always found myself coming back to New Bedford again and again. There’s such a rich art community there,” said Occhino, who is in her mid 30s. She’s from Attleboro and lives in Taunton.

Occhino has served as the manager of studio class programs at the Worcester Art Museum since 2014.

Occhino is set to take the helm Nov. 27. Her leadership follows retirement of Noelle Foye who shepherded the merger between the New Bedford Art Museum and ArtWorks! which occurred in 2014 and directed the combined organization. Under Foye’s guidance, exhibitions and educational programs grew while collaborations with other institutions expanded, according to a news release from the museum.

“Noelle Foye’s leadership positioned the art museum to be central to the community and that strength has allowed us to attract such a new talented leader,” said Lee Heald, director of AHA! and a member of the museum’s board and search committee for a new executive director. “We expect that Ashley will continue our strong support of community expression in the arts as well as support for excellence and achievement in the local arts community.”

Heald also said Occhino has a lot of enthusiasm and will bring a fresh perspective to the city.

“New Bedford holds a very special place in my heart and it’s through my times at UMass Dartmouth that I really learned about the city,” Occhino said.

She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts and has an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. She was one of the first classes to experience the Star Store in New Bedford, part of her thesis involved displaying work at ArtWorks! and she’s also taught art classes there, she said.

At the Worcester Art Museum, Occhino said she was in charge of developing programming, managing staff and working with community partners. Also, an education wing with dedicated exhibition space fell under her purview. The museum has an intensive education program with more than 100 classes each season, Occhino said.

She’s previously held leadership positions at Danforth Art in Framingham and the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, each time serving in education departments.

“I really just want to embrace the idea of a community museum,” Occhino said. She praised Foye for being successful with the merger, adding “I’m really honored to be following in her footsteps.”

“We are excited the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks! has hired Ashley Occhino as the museum’s new Executive Director. The NB Art Museum/Artworks! is ideal for arts travelers and invigorates the community. Ashley is familiar with the arts & culture landscape in New Bedford as well as her years of experience and passion for the arts, we look forward to working with her,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s director of tourism and marketing, in a statement.

Jamie Uretsky, curator at NBAM/ArtWorks! said she looks forward to removing her hat as acting director.

“I’ve only heard good things about Ashley,” Uretsky said. “It’s going to be nice to have her energy in the space.”

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT

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