Bloomberg: Gigantic wind turbines signal era of subsidy-free green power

Posted Apr 23, 2017 at 2:01 AM

Manufacturers led by Siemens are working to almost double the capacity of the current range of turbines, which already have wing spans that surpass those of the largest jumbo jets. The expectation those machines will be on the market by 2025 was at the heart of contracts won by German and Danish developers last week to supply electricity from offshore wind farms at market prices by 2025.

Just three years ago, offshore wind was a fringe technology more expensive than nuclear reactors and sometimes twice the cost of turbines planted on land. The fact that developers such as Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Dong Energy A/S are offering to plant giant turbines in stormy seas without government support show the economics of the energy business are shifting quicker than anyone thought possible — and adding competitive pressure on the dominant power generation fuels coal and natural gas.

“Dong and EnBW are banking on turbines that are three to four times bigger than those today,” said Keegan Kruger, analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They will be crucial to bringing down the cost of energy.”

About 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coastline in the German North Sea, where the local fish and seagulls don’t complain about the view of turbines in their back yards, offshore wind technology is limited only to how big the turbines can grow. Dong has said it expects machines able to produce 13 to 15 megawatts each for its projects when they’re due to be completed in the middle of the next decade — much bigger than the 8-megawatt machines on the market now.

Just one giant 15-megawatt turbine would produce power more cheaply than five 3-megawatt machines, or even two with an 8-megawatt capacity. That’s because bigger turbines can produce the same power from a fewer number of foundations and less complex grid connections. The wind farm’s layout can be made more efficient, and fewer machines means less maintenance.

“Right now, we are developing a bigger turbine,” said Bent Christensen, head of cost of energy at Siemens Wind Power A/S, in a phone interview. “But how big it will be we don’t know yet.”

Larger turbines are heavier, placing a natural limit on size, said Christensen. Lightweight materials such as carbon fiber may be required to reduce the heaviness of the rotor and the blades as the turbines grow.

“If we just go 10 years back, nobody could imagine what we’re doing today,” he said. “When you try to predict the future you have to be quite careful.”

The scale of the turbines may not even stop at 15 megawatts. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a unit of Lockheed Martin is working on components for a possible 50-megawatt turbine that would have blades 100 meters (about 328 feet) long.

These gigantic blades would be able to fold away to reduce the risk of damage at dangerous wind speeds. Siemens, along with Vestas Wind Systems and General Electric, are advising on the research program that’s funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

In the nearer term, Denmark, the home of wind energy, last month said it would expand the country’s main offshore wind test site to demonstrate turbines that will soar as high as 330 meters, taller than the Eiffel Tower. That could take the generation capacity past 10 megawatts, enabling turbine makers like Vestas and Siemens to challenge the boundaries of current capacity.

“The question of turbine capacity and wing span has never really been an issue from a technological perspective,” Jens Tommerup, chief executive of MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S, a partnership Vestas has with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, said in an email. “We have already taken the capacity of our 8-megawatt platform to 9-megawatt. The real question is what can the market support.”

Turbines will get bigger if developers and governments allow.

“The answer lies more in stable, visible volume targets rather than the technology itself,” Tommerup said.

A jaw-dropping moment

The auction in Germany was a jaw-dropping moment for industry analysts, many of whom expected a steady decline in prices but not another record. Deep-sea projects in Germany and the cable arrays needed to reach substations off the coast make these developments more complex than in neighboring states. The idea that Dong and EnWB bid for zero subsidy was a shock — and a first for projects of this scale.

“This is a wake up call that the fossil-fuel power industry in Europe is on its way out,” Urs Wahl, manager of public affairs at Germany’s Offshore Wind Industry Allianz, said in a phone interview.

The previous record low price was 49.90 euros a megawatt hour, won by Vattenfall AB in September. Bloomberg New Energy Finance had anticipated bids near 55 euros. The average price in the end was just 4.40 euros per megawatt-hour because one Dong Energy project secured a subsidy of 60 euros per megawatt-hour. The others bid zero, meaning they’ll get paid at market electricity prices.

“This option is opening up now as a subsidy-free production of electricity,” said Magnus Hall, chief executive officer of Vattenfall, in an interview in Brussels on Wednesday. “That really moves offshore into a perspective of continued growth.”

Competition in the German round may have been even tougher than other recent contests because it was the last chance for developers to win contracts for projects they’ve worked on for years, according to Deepa Venkateswaran, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

The “surprise” result highlights that “developers appear to be increasingly banking on scale” including cost cuts expected in the future and perhaps higher wholesale power prices, said analysts at Jefferies Group.

Original Story Here

Mitchell believes an innovation district would bring the best, brightest to SMAST

NEW BEDFORD — A plot extending roughly 300 feet along Rodney French Boulevard in the South End will be the site of the “innovation district” that Mayor Jon Mitchell announced last week during his State of the City address.

The land extends south toward the wastewater treatment plant for about 200 feet. While it’s not an overly large piece of land, the city believes it’s vital to the future of New Bedford.

“The idea would be to utilize city-owned land to create an environment in which people can live and and be close to research as well as business innovation opportunity,” Mitchell said.

Similar projects also labeled as “innovation districts” have popped up and are being constructed around the world. Mitchell and City Council President Joseph Lopes traveled to Pittsburgh last November to analyze its districts. They’ll travel to St. Louis in April.

“You can learn so much more by having the discussion with those who have gone through it,” Lopes said.

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization that conducts research on new ideas for solving problems facing society, has provided Mitchell with research on innovation districts. The organization defines an “innovation districts” as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.”

In this case, UMass Dartmouth’s SMAST facilities would anchor the district. Mitchell said the project won’t affect taxpayers, but instead will focus on private projects.

“By creating something that has these different elements you create that the whole idea of the innovative district,” dean of SMAST Steven Lohrenz said. “Its creating this multipurpose site with a lot of different elements and there is synergy that develops and makes it more attractive to people.”

Mitchell said the district is still years away, but the research and planning underway allowed him to announce it in last week’s State of the City.

No official plans exist for what the district could contain, but Mitchell suggested, like most around the world, it might include housing, business incubators and retail and dining opportunities.

“We want to be seen as a place where ideas can be generated and commercialized,” Mitchell said. “Those ideas are key in having an urban environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive.”

Mitchell pointed to the success of Christopher Rezendes and his Internet connectivity company, IoT Impact LABS, as past examples of innovation within the city.

This project is different in that includes SMAST, which already houses an a core of potential innovators students and professors.

“It’s a way for the city and university to expand on an already good partnership,” said Derek Santos, the executive director of New Bedford’s Economic Development Council.

Mitchell said one of the issues surrounding SMAST is that many of the dwellings in the area of the two facilities are single-family homes, which limit the number of students and professors that can live near campus.

Mitchell, Lopes and Lohrenz agreed, though, any and all projects within the district would only be approved after consideration of the neighborhood.

“This is going have to be sized right,” Lohrenz said. “We’re not building the next strip mall. It has to be something that compliments the surroundings.”

According to the Brookings Institution, innovation districts can increase economic activity and help raise property values. The group states the increased revenue can be used to invest in infrastructure, public safety, affordable housing and schools.

Santos called Cambridge’s Kendall Square, the mother of all “innovation districts.” It combines growth around MIT and along with nearby institutions like Massachusetts General Hospital.

New Bedford’s district would be on a much smaller scale but contain the same ideas.

“You take academics and mix that with private sector,” Santos said. “And you create an environment that can be dynamic.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonner.

Original Story here:

Moby Dick Brewing Co. closing in on opening day

NEW BEDFORD — A whale of a beer operation is brewing in the city’s downtown historic district.

The Moby Dick Brewing Co. is set to open its doors, and its taps, to the public on March 14 — making it the only grain-to-glass brewery in New Bedford.

Located on the corner of Union and Water street, the nearly 100-seat brewpub is aiming to cater to the craft beer crowd, the roughly 5,000 people working in the downtown area and the 120,000 people that live within 20 minutes of its doorsteps, says co-owner Bob Unger.

“We think we’re going to rejuvenate this whole section of the city,” Unger said.

Moby Dick is a joint venture of Unger, a former editor and associate publisher of The Standard-Times, and six other partners.

They hope to do for the historic district what the whaling industry did for the city two centuries ago.

Calling on the novel that helped put New Bedford on the literary map, Unger thought the name of the brewery was a no-brainer.

“Quite frankly, we felt the name is under-utilized around here,” Unger said. “Given where we’re located and the fact that this corner was once a place that outfitted whaling vessels, as most places in this part of the city did, it seemed to make sense.”

With the name and location out of the way, they enlisted the help of acclaimed local brewmaster Scott Brunelle to handle the beer and former Seattle-based chef Tom Mackley to create a menu to pair with Brunelle’s eight beers brewed in-house.

From the food to the beer to the artwork hanging on the walls the idea is evident: local sustainability. A beer Brunelle produces with wheat grain that’s spent at the end of the brewing process could be sent to a local farmer to be used to feed their livestock. They’d buy the local prepared meats from them in exchange for the wheat grain.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said. “We want to support the work of other restaurants and businesses around us. Their success contributes to ours.”

Mackley added, “I think the idea was to reach out to the different local producers, purveyors and fishermen and see what type of ingredients were available and figure out what’s sustainable and what’s being caught responsibly.”

The lunch and dinner menus will blend classic pub fare with some of New Bedford’s seafood flare. The city’s well-known fishing industry and the possibility to work with a new set of ingredients are what excited the farm-to-table chef about coming to Moby Dick.

But even the classics will have a local, innovative spin on them. The fish and chips dish will be made from a beer batter of the American lager brewed in one of Brunelle’s five stainless steel brewing tanks, that hold 310 gallons each. The chowder will feature salt cod, a Portuguese favorite. Some more adventurous items will be the pan-seared redfish and skate wing, and the grilled whole fish.

“We’re hoping people won’t be scared off by the head being on the plate,” Mackley said.

Unger and Slutz dove head-first into the brewpub venture a little more than a year ago. He had just left his position at the Standard-Times and SouthCoastToday.com when Slutz had left Precix.

“What do you want to be when you grow up,” Unger asked Slutz while having coffee at the Green Bean one day.

It didn’t take more than 30 minutes for Slutz to be convinced. The seed was planted in Unger’s mind after sharing a few beers with his father, a former brewer for Schaefer Brewery, in St. Augustine, Florida. His 91-year-old father said, “If I was 25 years younger I would open a place like this. And you should too.”

Unger didn’t need to convince many more as he received investment backing with strong local ties.

The investment team includes David Slutz, former CEO of Precix; Maureen Sylvia Armstrong, CEO of the Sylvia Group in Dartmouth; Peter Kavanaugh, owner of Brownell Boat Stands in Mattapoisett and president of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Dartmouth; Richard Lafrance, CEO of Lafrance Hospitality, which operates the New Bedford Fairfield Inn & Suites and White’s of Westport, among other hotel and restaurant holdings; Andy Gomes, owner of A Gomes Equipment in Acushnet; Randy Weeks, the partner-in-charge of Partridge, Snow & Hahn’s New Bedford office, and Unger, principal of Unger LeBlanc Inc. Strategic Communications.

The hope of everyone is to rebirth the area of the downtown facing the waterfont and make New Bedford a destination for tourists and locals alike.

“I think there are going to be more and more people coming to New Bedford, but as we become a local staple hopefully they’ll want to stick around more. We think that’s a good thing for New Bedford,” Unger said.

Original Story Here:

Your View: Workforce skills and education needed to match strong local work ethic

By Posted Feb 5, 2017

As we begin 2017, our city is continuing a 10-year trend of solid economic progress. Leading indicators such as labor force, business start-ups, average wages, nation-leading fishing port activity, and dropping unemployment rates all reflect steady improvement with particular acceleration over the past three years. While these numbers make for good headlines, they don’t tell the whole story.

Even with our recent successes, one painful reality remains – until the education and professional skill level of the community improves, the strong and durable economy we want for all New Bedford families will continue to be frustratingly out of reach. New Bedford is not alone in this regard; many cities and states across America are becoming increasingly concerned about not having enough skilled workers to fulfill the needs of companies ready for growth. While this is a national issue, we can, and should, take on the responsibility of making our change, for our own benefit.

Helping to bring about that kind of change is what the Regeneration Project is all about. It began in the spring of 2014 when Mayor Jon Mitchell asked many of Greater New Bedford’s business and community leaders to serve as members of the New Bedford Regeneration Committee. The task the mayor put before this diverse group was to articulate a strategy for the city’s economic regeneration that builds on the committee’s collective experience in leading successful enterprises.

The committee’s final report, Uniting in Pursuit of Growth and Opportunity, is a statement intended to attract broad popular buy-in, shape economic development strategy, and signal to both private investors and government officials outside the region that New Bedford has a clear set of objectives.

The report highlights four main strategies:

  • Bolstering local capacity to promote economic development;
  • Fostering the development of Downtown New Bedford;
  • Enhancing workforce development in advanced manufacturing; and
  • Modernizing and growing our greatest asset – the Port of New Bedford.

To continue this work, in 2015 many of the leaders from the original group agreed to form the standing committee of the New Bedford Economic Development Council’s Regeneration Project. Since then, many of the committee’s original recommendations have been acted on, resulting in tangible progress in port development, driving new downtown investment and vibrancy, and in the ways that economic and workforce development services are delivered. A good start to be sure, but not yet game changing.

To help create systematic change to our too familiar pattern of an up and down economy, we wanted to take a closer look at one area of focus from our original report – the workforce readiness of our community. During this past six months, we engaged with the local stakeholders and agencies tasked with this mission; the Workforce Investment Board, New Directions, Bristol Community College, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis, New Bedford Public Schools, Greater New Bedford Regional Voc-Tech, and the region’s largest employer, Southcoast Health.

All of these conversations and interactions lead to the overarching conclusion that this is not something city government can just fix like a pothole: All partners must do their share to be sure every tool is ready and accessible to those who are most in need. The citizens of New Bedford must also be committed to the hard work that lies ahead. Our workforce can no longer get by on a strong back and solid work ethic. Those attributes will continue to be of great value, but it is no longer enough, and we must adapt if we wish to thrive.

While there are big things that need to be done by all, we would offer that there are several early actions that can be started by the stakeholder agencies and organizations to help build momentum for larger tasks:

 

  • Co-locate the workforce training programs with administration functions to assure the greatest possible delivery of services;
  • Focus efforts on sectors with immediate growth potential, such as advanced manufacturing, health care services, trade skills (specifically waterfront related), and hospitality;
  • Advocate for policy changes that remove unnecessarily burdensome hurdles to job training or placement;
  • Emphasize job readiness skills for all – regardless of educational level or background;
  • Boost local investment in education – both in the New Bedford school system and for those students seeking a vocational style education – to provide the necessary tools to maximize student engagement and the ever increasing demands and requirements for workforce and higher education;
  • Work in regional partnerships to the greatest extent possible, since the labor market is not generally concerned with local municipal borders.

Building a highly skilled and well-educated workforce is a hard thing for any community to do and it will not happen overnight. However, taking some important first steps is critical to our future success. Education and workforce training levels are tied to crime, physical health, and so much more. More than any other determining factor in the well being of a community is its level of educational attainment.

We will continue to do our part to engage the public and private sector leadership of the community and advocate for this and other strategies that will increase the growth and prosperity of our city and region. As we first reported in 2014, the collaborative spirit of the community is alive and well. Our city will not only need that spirit, but the action and commitment of its citizens.

The best way for us to take greatest advantage of the good times and lessen the impacts of slower periods is to have a well balanced and diverse local economy built on the foundation of a skilled, well trained workforce in a community that is as committed to education as much as it values hard work.

Gerry Kavanaugh, Co-Chair: senior vice chancellor for strategic management, UMass Dartmouth

Anthony Sapienza, Co-Chair: president JA Apparel Corp., President New Bedford EDC

Rick Kidder: President & CEO, New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce

David Wechsler: President and CEO, Maritime International

Maureen Sylvia Armstrong: President, CEO and owner, Sylvia Group Insurance

Keith Hovan: President and CEO, SouthCoast Health System

Nicholas Christ: President and CEO, BayCoast Bank

David Slutz: Managing Director, Potentia Business Solutions

Elizabeth Isherwood: Chair, Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation

Patrick Murray: President and CEO, Bristol County Savings Bank

Dr. John Sbrega: President, Bristol Community College

Helena DaSilva Hughes: Executive Director, Immigrants’ Assistance Center

James Russell: President and CEO New Bedford Whaling Museum

Bob Unger: Chair, Leadership SouthCoast

James Lopes: Law Offices of James J. Lopes; New Bedford Historical Commission

National fiber art magazine’s inaugural exhibit lands in New Bedford

Contemporary fiber art is not your grandmother’s crocheted afghan.

Excellence in Fibers, an exhibition of selected works drawn from the second annual international juried print exhibition published by Fiber Art Now magazine, presents some of the most exciting and innovative work being done today in the world of contemporary fiber art.

The show, up at New Bedford Art Museum / ArtWorks! from Jan. 25 to March 19, is FAN’s first venture into presenting their print exhibition in a real-world venue.

Fiber Art Now received submissions from artists around the world in response to the call for entries. The prestigious panel of jurors were: Emily Zilber, Curator, MFA Boston; Gerhardt Knodel and Norma Minkowitz, both internationally recognized fiber artists and icons in the field of fiber; and Melissa Leventon, principal of Curatrix Group Museum Consultants and a former curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Of the over 50 works in the print exhibition, 31 were selected for the show at NBAM/AW.

Excellence in Fibers runs the gamut from established artists to newcomers; from traditional age-old basket weaving techniques to digital manipulation and printing; from familiar sewing and quilt making to laser cutting techniques.

Within the broad category of fiber, the show includes weaving, sewing, applique, embroidery, basket making, sculpture, crochet, felting, screen printing, joomchi and knotting.

As part of the print exhibition, special awards were given and several of those are in this show.

Nicole Benner’s Comfort/Confine is a large work of crocheted copper wire that becomes a performance piece when donned by a wearer. Named as the Paul J. Smith Award for Excellence in Fiber winner, Benner’s work is a thought-provoking piece on the effects of chronic pain.

“In Comfort/Confine, I utilize the copper yarn as a reference to the nervous system: an aspect of my own chronic pain that can be debilitating. Here the body has defined mobility, only capable of reaching where the textile allows,” the artist stated in the exhibition issue of Fiber Art Now. Benner hails from Marshall, Missouri.

Joel Allen’s hand-wrapped, tied and knotted work Hooked on Svelte was named the winner in the installation category. A series of large mixed media pendants are suspended from the ceiling creating a fun, textured and colorful display 12 feet long by this Steamboat Springs, Colorado, artist.

At the other end of the size spectrum, at only 17 inches in height, is Massachusetts artist Lois Russel’s NZ, a little jewel of twined waxed linen thread – and winner in the Vessel Forms/Basketry category.

The Nigerian Riot Girl, by artist Jacky M. Puzey of the United Kingdom, is one of the international submissions. Employing a tour de force of fiber techniques, this winner of the Wearables Award is an intricate couture dress designed and constructed by the artist that dazzles with a complex mix of materials.

In the Wall/Floor Works category artist Heather Ujiie of Langhorne, Pennsylvania was named the winner for her textile mural consisting of five panels that together are 126 inches by 250 inches. Battle of the Sea Monsters was originally hand drawn in markers, pen and ink, then scanned at high resolution, digitally manipulated and printed on canvas. Vibrantly colored, the work is an intense mass of men, women and other creatures waging a ferocious battle on a lemon colored sea.

The complete list of artists also includes David Bacharach, Pat Hickman, Pat Burns-Wendland, Pat Busby, Anna Carlson, Deborah Corsini, Ania Gilmore, Anna Kristina Goransson, Meredith Grimsley, Henry Hallett, Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, Jean Koon, Mariko Kusumoto, Jeannet Leendertse, Dorothy McGuinness, Alicia Merrett, Elizabeth Odiorne, Kathryn Rousso, Chloe Sachs, Diane Savona, Deloss Webber and Wendy Weiss.

The opening reception for Excellence in Fibers will be held Sunday Jan. 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. Marcia Young, editor-in-chief of Fiber Art Now, along with a number of the artists, will be on hand. Workshops by well-known fiber artists Elin Noble and Jeanne Flanagan will be offered in New Bedford the preceding day.

Registrations and special hotel discounts are available through Fiber Art Now.

For further information contact the Museum at 508.961.3072 or visit www.NewBedfordArt.org.

New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! is located at 608 Pleasant Street, New Bedford. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; open every Thursday until 9 p.m.

Original Story Here:

Joseph Abboud goes 70 percent solar

By

Joseph Abboud has gone solar.

The suit maker’s only manufacturing facility, a 272,000 square-foot mill once powered with coal and then with oil, is now using rooftop solar to generate about 70 percent of its electricity.

Built in 1909, the building has a sawtooth roof with 43 rows of north-facing skylights that let natural light into the mill.

Because the roofing is tilted at 22 degrees and faces south, it was perfect for capturing sunlight, said Phil Cavallo, CEO of Beaumont Solar Co., which installed the solar panels.

Drive down Belleville Avenue in New Bedford, and you can see the panels from the street.

“It’s pretty neat. It’s very photogenic,” he said.

The 1.3-megawatt system can generate 1.62 million kilowatt hours of energy each year.

Joseph Abboud president Anthony Sapienza said the company is a big user of electricity and has been conversant in renewable energy for years. With state tax credits and availability of local solar expertise, the project made sense, he said.

He expects the facility to cut its power costs by 80 percent.

The company has also converted its heating system from oil to natural gas and switched from fluorescent to LED lighting where possible, he said.

Joseph Abboud makes 1,300 suits per day in the facility. It has 800 employees, all of them local and overwhelmingly from New Bedford, Sapienza said.

Its parent company is Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and other menswear names.

Sapienza said the solar installation cost about $2.5 million and represents the company’s commitment to American-made products and to the city of New Bedford.

The city has become a leader in solar power, and “we’re proud to be a part of that story,” he said.

Sapienza, Cavallo, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell gathered on the manufacturing floor Tuesday to announce the project. Mitchell said New Bedford has installed more solar capacity per capita than any other city in the continental United States.

A century ago, when the Abboud building was part of the Nashawena Mills textile complex, coal was trucked in and burned to make steam and generate electricity, according to Cavallo. A tunnel beneath Belleville Avenue still connects the boiler house, on the east side of the street, with the main building to the west, he said.

New Bedford-based Beaumont Solar is the former Beaumont Sign Co., which Cavallo bought in 2006. An electrical engineer with ties to Cape Cod, he previously worked in Silicon Valley but wanted to return to the East Coast, he said.

Original Story Here:

New Bedford leads nation in jobless rate decline

Posted Jan 9, 2017 at 1:19 PM

NEW BEDFORD – This city leads the nation in dropping unemployment, according to statistics released Monday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

From November of 2015 to November of 2016 the unemployment rate in New Bedford saw a decline of 2.8 percentage points, the most in the nation, said the report.

It has been more than 16 years since the New Bedford area had an unemployment rate as low at 3.7 percent. In October 2000 the area unemployment rate briefly fell to 3.5 percent.

Mayor Jon Mitchell cautioned, “The last thing we should do is take today’s positive news for granted. There are still too many area residents who are underemployed or don’t have the skills to fill positions that are available,” he said.

He called on the city to keep working on those policies that brought the good news about. “We need to stay committed to our economic development strategy and keep pushing forward with the policies and projects that have brought us this far,” he said in a statement.

New Bedford is not alone in seeing a decline in unemployment. Most other “gateway cities” in Massachusetts also saw declines in unemployment, with Boston meanwhile registering a drop of 1.7 percent, the most in a large city.

A report in Commonwealth Magazine, published by MassINC, noted that the state appears to have reached full capacity, which means that the benefits are being more widely distributed.

Mitchell said the jobs progress reflects many factors, including the competitiveness of local companies, the hard work of their employees, and the efforts of the public sector to establish general conditions for employment growth.

“We know that the private sector performs best when the public sector creates a positive climate by being fiscally responsible and pursuing a well-defined economic strategy, he said.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT

Original Article Here:

New Bedford named state’s most creative community

By

New Bedford has been named the most creative community in the state by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

The council honored New Bedford with a 2017 Commonwealth Award for “providing sustained leadership, funding, and infrastructure to the places where art and culture are presented, and where artists live and work, providing a model for cities everywhere.” Given every two years in several categories, the awards will be presented Feb. 15 at the Statehouse.

“I’m just so proud of New Bedford. It’s a recognition richly and well deserved,” said Lee Heald, director of AHA!, a monthly gallery night in the downtown area that focuses on art, history, and architecture. She wrote a letter nominating the city.

The city’s trajectory over the last 20 years has been “quite extraordinary,” she said, moving from a time when the downtown was virtually deserted, with only small pockets of cultural activity, to today’s vibrant mix of artists, students, cultural events, and businesses. The award doesn’t just go to the “arts and culture people,” but to the entire community for working together to remake itself, she said.

Lee credited Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, with sparking transformative change with his work to move UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts downtown. Since it opened in a former department store in the early 2000s, the region has graduated the first generation of kids who think New Bedford is a happening place to be, and “people in New Bedford now identify with New Bedford as a changed place,” she said.

Five years ago, college students and faculty artists in New Bedford went a long way toward garnering New Bedford an even more widely recognized honor: The city was named the seventh most artistic city in America in proportion to its population, alongside the likes of San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, by Richard Florida of The Atlantic magazine. He and a research colleague measured cities by the number of artists relative to their population.

That award and the city’s transformation were major factors when the Massachusetts Cultural Council considered New Bedford, according to David Slatery, deputy director of the grant-making state agency.

“There’s a lot going on down there,” he said.

Slatery said the Commonwealth Awards show how arts and culture are essential to the state and its communities.

Rosemary Gill, executive director for programming and development at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, called the news of New Bedford’s award “wonderful.” The city’s cultural scene is a “beautiful, growing tapestry,” she said.

James Russell, president and CEO of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, said, “I’m delighted. I think it’s fantastic for the city.”

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell plans to attend the awards ceremony in February. He would like to make the city even better known for the arts, he said.

Pending approval of a home-rule petition, Mitchell has established a dedicated arts development fund, fed by hotel tax receipts, that would collect about $100,000 a year to hire an arts coordinator and accelerate the arts through things like live performances and public art, he said.

Follow Jennette Barnes on Twitter @jbarnesnews.

Original Story Here:

Officials celebrate $2.5M grant for downtown New Bedford

By

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito attended a Thursday morning downtown news conference to celebrate a $2.5 million infrastructure grant coming to the city from the MassWorks program, an infrastructure improvement effort.

The grant will be used to upgrade and improve the lower section of Union Street above Water Street. East of that the street has already been transformed with period lighting and paving stones as part of the Route 18 rebuild.

The MassWorks grant will not buy paving stones but it will be spent on lighting, curbing, sidewalks and making the street comply with the Americans for Disabilities Act.

Mayor Jon Mitchell told the reporters that “downtowns belong to all of us,” and that they “evolve over time.” He cited the cases of some buildings having new uses as old industries like ship chandlers fade.

Six new restaurants in the downtown are in the works thanks to the improvements already made, said Mitchell.

The grant application process was very difficult, Mitchell said. In fact, last year the city’s application was denied. Polito said just 34 out of 114 applications were approved.

This time, the effort was so thorough that the mayor’s office was distributing copies of the entire document, which includes everything from written descriptions to engineering and conceptual drawings.

It’s all in the pursuit of a welcoming atmosphere. “Environmental clues tell a lot,” Mitchell said. And downtowns are where people connect, he said “It’s important to spend time and energy on them,” something that the city has been doing for more than a decade, with excellent results.

MassWorks, said Polito, is a $500 million multi-year effort to boost central cities, particularly “gateway” cities. These areas are being called Transformational Development Districts.” In New Bedford’s case, it is the arts and culture economy that has revitalized much of the city.

Polito also noted with approval the pending overhaul of State Pier, which will include air conditioning allowing it to work year-round and create even more jobs.

State Pier is the latest in a sequence of improvements all leading to a transformed downtown, starting with UMass Dartmouth/Star Store, Route 18 and finally State Pier. State Sen. Mark Montigny said Route 18 was “horrendous” before the rebuilding, which is not yet complete. It’s necessary to create a welcoming atmosphere for people who come to the city, he said.

Infrastructure improvements are something that the city’s elected officials agree upon with the governor.

But Montigny railed against the state giving General Electric $120 million in tax breaks to move to Boston, and the state’s decision to spend $10 billion over 10 years in biotech industries that are going to places that already have “zero unemployment,” he said.

The Union Street project has been in the design stage; next spring is the likely start date.

The conference was also attended by state Reps. Antonio Cabral and Rep. Robert Koczera, both of New Bedford.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.

Original Story Here

 

New Bedford again tops nation for dollar value of fishing catch

By

NEW BEDFORD — The city’s port has again topped the country for dollar value of its fishing catch, NOAA Fisheries reported this week, citing 2015 landings worth $322 million.

That marks 16 years in a row that New Bedford has held the top-value title, which is thanks largely to scallops. Dutch Harbor, Alaska, again was tops for total volume of catch, landing 787 million pounds last year.

New Bedford’s catch was much smaller: 124 million pounds, good for only 11th in the country and far behind Dutch Harbor. But Dutch Harbor’s catch had a value of $218 million — second-highest in the country — reflecting the strong commercial value of New Bedford’s scallop industry.

“The scallop industry has put New Bedford at the top of the food chain, as it were, of fishing ports for the last 16 years — that’s a very impressive streak,” said Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission. “It really shows the impact of scallops but also the impact of cooperative research.”

In the 1990s, SMAST scientists Brian Rothschild and Kevin Stokesbury pioneered innovations in counting scallops, with cameras tested and used on local scallopers. The resulting data affected stock assessments by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ultimately leading to larger catch quotas and helping secure steady catches for waterfront businesses.

Many local fishermen credit the scientists and their teams with reviving the regional scallop industry.

“The reason scallops are so valuable is because our businesses were able to build business plans around the catch,” Anthes-Washburn said. “We’re reaping the benefits of good cooperative science, and solid relationships between the regulators, the fishermen and the scientists. I think it shows you what can happen when fishermen are a big part of the data collection.

“It’s the model that we’re (now) trying to use for the groundfish industry,” Anthes-Washburn said.

The annual catch reports, released by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, showed that New Bedford’s catch dipped by about 11 percent last year, falling from 140 million pounds in 2014 to 124 million in 2015. The 2013 catch totaled 130 million pounds.

Dollar value dipped, as well, but only by about 2 percent, from $329 million in 2014 to $322 million in 2015. New Bedford’s catch in 2013 had a value of $379 million.

Keeping those numbers up not only will be vital for the fishing industry and regional economy, but also for city leaders, who often tout the port’s top status when representing and promoting New Bedford at events in other areas.

“When I speak to audiences outside the city, I never miss an opportunity to proclaim that New Bedford is America’s top commercial fishing port,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said Friday. “We’re proud of the success of an industry that is central both to our region’s economy and its identity, and we as a community must continue to support its vitality in the long run.”

Port director lands key economic post

Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission, has been named to a two-year term as chairman of the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) Maritime Economic Development Committee, the city announced Friday.

The AAPA advocates for the seaport industry in the Americas and includes more than 130 public port authorities, in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.

“The Port of New Bedford is the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, the launching pad for America’s offshore wind industry, and a dynamic and diverse economic engine for Massachusetts,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “The naming of (Anthes-Washburn) to an important leadership role at the AAPA is a recognition of the national significance of our port, and Ed’s exemplary work in helping develop it into its full potential.”

Anthes-Washburn said his goal as chairman will be to foster strong relationships and increase dialogue between ports across the nation and beyond.

“As director of the most valuable fishing port in the country, I am honored to represent New Bedford at the national level and help further strengthen the economic impact of the Port of New Bedford, as well as ports throughout Canada and the Americas,” he said.

Anthes-Washburn, 31, was appointed port director in October 2015. He had served as interim director since June 2015, when former director Jeffrey Stieb stepped down, and also was interim director in September 2012, before Stieb took the position. He previously was the Harbor Development Commission’s director of operations from 2010 to 2012.

Mike Lawrence