Sovereign Bank Expands New Bedford Call Center

Sovereign Bank announced recently the expansion of its call center in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The bank will increase the call center’s second shift, which operates in the evening hours until 11 p.m. EST.

“With the location of the new call center in Downtown New Bedford and now with the expansion of that operation, Sovereign Bank has displayed tremendous confidence in New Bedford and its workforce,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang of Sovereign Bank’s announcement. “The city is proud of our association with Sovereign Bank and we appreciate their investing in our community. The New Bedford workforce is uniquely talented, trained in modern technology and skilled in multiple languages. Our friendly and capable workforce is quickly becoming the voice of Sovereign Bank’s customer service line.”

“Our commitment to New Bedford continues to be consistently reinforced through our support of local community organizations, housing projects, and the creation of jobs,” said Minnie Saleh, Sovereign Bank’s regional president for Bristol County. “Today, we are pleased to support our city with more than 30 additional call center positions, an increase of 30% over the positions created last year when we opened the contact center.” She added, “we thank our customers and community for their support and continue to look forward to servicing them through our extensive branch franchise and local call center.”

Jim White, Senior Vice President and Director of Sovereign Bank’s Customer Contact Centers, commented that he was extremely pleased by the success of the New Bedford Contact Center. “The contact center is a key touch point in serving customer needs and we are thrilled by the positive difference our New Bedford team members have made for our customers.”

Sovereign is seeking applicants to fill 35 customer service positions, both full-time and part-time positions. The bank is also interested in hiring bilingual candidates, who speak both English and Spanish.

Sovereign’s New Bedford contact center opened in June 2006 and currently employs 115 Customer Service Representatives.

September 26, 2007

Classic Yacht Cruise to Arrive in New Bedford Harbor Wednesday, August 22

Wednesday, August 22

A flotilla of some 25 classic sail and powerboats will parade in company through the New Bedford hurricane barrier between 2 and 4 PM on Wednesday, August 22 and will layover in the harbor. Cruise participants will come ashore to enjoy the city and the many activities organizers have planned.

Mayor Scott W. Lang, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC), the Harbor Development Commission, New Bedford Office of Tourism and many local businesses, organizations and individuals have scheduled a full itinerary to warmly welcome the fleet of classic boats and their passengers participating in the Classic Yacht Cruise (CYC) – some launched as early as 1905 and lovingly restored- some right here in our harbor. The 160-foot, three-masted staysail schooner Arabella serves as the mother ship for the cruise.

The annual event, organized by the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) of Newport (R.I.), will cruise in southern New England waters, starting in Nantucket in conjunction with Opera House Cup Regatta and sailing to Martha’s Vineyard, Tarpaulin Cove, New Bedford, Cuttyhunk and its final destination, Newport (R.I.).

The CYC draws a fleet that represents a time capsule of classic yacht design—from wooden boats launched in the early 1900s to recently launched modern classics built in a “spirit of tradition.” Participating power and sailboats range in length from 39 to 76 feet.

Among the activities planned are a reception Wednesday evening at Cork Wine Bar, a fundraising dinner at the Whaling Museum and several activities on Thursday including: sailing on two of the vessels for children in the Community Boating program; tours of Foley’s Fish Processing Plant, an Eastern Fisheries scalloper, Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, the National Historic Park and Whale Boat Races.

“For New Bedford to be chosen as a layover for the IYRS cruise is good news for the city,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang. “Our hope is that the captains and their crews feel welcome here and have a memorable stay in New Bedford. We hope they enjoy all that we have to offer and that they return to our beautiful working harbor and historic city.”

A number of area businesses have donated items to welcome the vessels including Sperry Sails of Marion, Crystal Ice, Cardoza’s Wine and Spirits, Continental Plastics, Hunt Yacht design, Titleist golf balls, the Coalition for Buzzards Bay and The Black Whale. Jeff Pontiff’s New Bedford Harbor Tours will be running regular launch service.

“The layover presents an important opportunity to tell our story to many individuals connected to companies, jobs and investment dollars,” said NBEDC Executive Director Matthew Morrissey.

As part of a broader business development campaign of the NBEDC, each captain will receive a personalized commemorative book designed by MediumStudio and printed by Reynolds-DeWalt, entitled “New Bedford IS…” Both firms have donated their services. This version of the book contains specific information important to mariners.

“We welcome IYRS to the Port of New Bedford to explore our great city and learn about New Bedford’s maritime traditions. The group will have the opportunity to experience first hand the authentic charm of a working port with beautiful vistas of hundreds of fishing vessels throughout the harbor.  IYRS’s voyage to New Bedford demonstrates the diversity of our port and how recreational, tourism, and industry-based operations compliment and benefit one another,” said Kristin Decas, Executive Director of the Harbor Development Commission.

New Bedford resident Laurie Bullard, co-admiral for the Classic Yacht Cruise and New Bedford port captain said, “I see this as an outstanding opportunity for New Bedford – a chance to showcase the beauty, history and culture of the city. We have a large, deep-water and safe harbor, the best ice on the East Coast, excellent marine services, great museums, talented artisans, restaurants with delicious food, attractive shops and lovely residential areas. Thanks to the efforts of a huge number of folks, the fleet will receive the best while they are in our harbor.”

Among the many organizations participating are the National Historic Park (Celeste Bernardo, executive director and Jennifer Gonsalves, ranger), the Whaling Museum (Anne Brengle, executive director), Office of Tourism and Marketing (Anne Marie Lopes, director), the Harbor Development Commission (Kristin Decas, executive director) and the NBEDC (Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director). Various city departments will provide essential support.

Photographers who would like to shoot the fleet’s arrival should consider locations such as Fort Phoenix (Fairhaven) and the navigation gate of the Hurricane Barrier. It is recommended that photographers call Deirdre Opp of IYRS on Aug. 22 to get a more accurate estimate of when the fleet will arrive (mobile: 401-835-7323).

About IYRS: Located in the heart of historic Newport, the International Yacht Restoration School has transformed a once-abandoned section of waterfront into a thriving center for maritime education and restoration. Its highly regarded educational programs, which draw students from around the world, make the school a valuable training institution for the maritime industry. IYRS offers two curricula of study: a two-year program in boat building and restoration and a one-year program in marine systems and associated technology (in addition to a full menu of Continuing Education courses). Emphasis in both programs is on developing a high degree of technical and craftsmanship skill, leading to certifications that are highly regarded by the marine industry. IYRS also promotes an understanding of maritime heritage to the public at large through its lecture series; publications such as Restoration Quarterly; and a campus that is open year-round to the public, which includes a working marina that attracts classic power and sailboats in the summer season. IYRS students restore historically important boats and as a byproduct of the program, students have returned a fleet of classic boats to the water including small rowing skiffs and power boats, the first Concordia yawl and yachts of important designers and boat builders.

For more information, visit the school’s website at www.iyrs.org. The website’s Media Room houses the latest press releases in addition to background sheets on the school and its major restoration projects. Media Contact: Cynthia Goss, 203-430-4145.

Hopes Grow for Hotel in New Bedford

Natalie Myers
Providence Business News

After nearly 40 years without a hotel downtown or along the nearby waterfront, it looks as though New Bedford might finally get one.

Lafrance Hospitality Co. is in the process of negotiating a purchase and sale agreement for the Finicky Cat Food property at 16 Front St. on the city’s waterfront.

“We haven’t finalized anything at this point,” said Richard Lafrance, CEO of the Westport-based hospitality company, which owns and operates four Hampton Inn hotels in Massachusetts and one Comfort Inn in New Hampshire. “In a month we can probably announce the whole thing.”

But LaFrance did say the plan is to build a 90- to 100-room hotel on the 2-acre property. The company hopes to start construction by next spring. Lafrance said he estimates it will be a $9- to $10-million project.

If it happens, the hotel deal would come none too soon for the small seaport city.

New Bedford needs a hotel closer to downtown, said Matt Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. The number of tourists visiting the city has increased 11 percent from 2005 to 2006 to a total of 800,000. Morrissey said, however, the there has been a 25 percent growth in the number of visitors in the past few years.
A surge of arts and cultural events and organizations is attracting people, and with that more restaurants and new businesses are opening.

But there is no place for out-of-town visitors to stay, unless they want to stay at the Days Inn off Interstate 195, about four miles from the heart of downtown, or the Comfort Inn, the extended-stay Marriott Residence Inn or the Dartmouth Motor Inn, all of which are about five miles away from the city’s attractions.

The property on Front Street, on the other hand, sits about 300 yards away from historic downtown New Bedford, Morrissey said.

“[The hotel] will be a tremendous asset to overall economic development in the city,” he said. “It’s the missing link.”
Katherine Knowles, executive director of the Zeiterion Theater, which is about 500 yards from where the hotel would be located, used other words to describe the hotel’s contribution to economic development.

Especially from an arts and culture organization’s perspective, Knowles said, a hotel within walking distance is “vitally important” to the economic health of the city.

About 20 percent of the theater’s audience comes from Providence, she said. A smaller percent comes from Connecticut and upstate New York. But Knowles thinks more would come and stay the night of the show if there were a more accessible hotel.

“There is a whole day of activities available downtown,” she said, listing the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the New Bedford Art Museum and a number of galleries, restaurants and the working waterfront. “The hotel would change the dynamic. More people would come for the day.”

In addition, Morrissey said, 33 percent more people are taking the fast ferry from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard. He hopes the hotel would sway them to stay in the city a bit longer before or after they take the ferry.

“We have to explain why we don’t have [a hotel] at this point,” he said. “Individuals coming to the city, they look for the hotel … and not having a national brand hotel like a Hilton or Marriott or a high-end boutique hotel … it doesn’t accurately reflect our development activity.”

Since 2000, New Bedford has experienced more than $80 million in renovations to commercial and residential property downtown, though some projects are under way or in pre-construction.

Other hotel deals had been announced and then fell through since then, Morrissey said. But he would not comment as to why.

He did say, however, that Mayor Scott Lang made attracting a hotel developer to the downtown a priority shortly after taking office in January last year.

Around the same time, the NBEDC commissioned a hotel market demand study with Pinnacle Advisory Group. The study concluded that New Bedford is “an emerging market that’s clearly expanding,” Morrissey said. “It said a hotel downtown/waterfront is warranted.”

The NBEDC used the results of the study to attract about a dozen hotel developers to visit the city.

“Lafrance was the most aggressive in creating a sense of understanding of the market,” Morrissey said. “And in understanding what we were hoping would be developed.”

August 2007

City Economic Development Leaders Pursue Employer Input

Beginning in September, the Lang Administration and the New Bedford Economic Development Council are embarking on an ambitious series of meetings to share ideas and receive feedback from more than 60 of the city’s employers.

“As Mayor of the City of New Bedford, I have met with dozens of local employers, and would like to continue to dedicate time to interacting with the business community, learning their ideas and setbacks and sharing New Bedford’s objectives and plans regarding economic development. I look forward to sharing information about available resources and learning about business needs with which the city can assist,” Mayor Scott W. Lang stated.

“To keep sustainable economic development going, you need a broad-based approach and understanding throughout the business community,” said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “We also understand that there are always pressures that face businesses and we want to know what we can do to help.”

Tony Sapienza, president of the Council and president of Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, which is one of the largest employers in the city, stated in a recent letter to employers:

Over the last year and a half, the Scott W. Lang Administration has undertaken an ambitious agenda and moved to align the City of New Bedford’s resources, attempting to build a better climate for living and working in the City. While sustainable progress takes time, already there are gains in the areas of economic development, public safety, education, and neighborhood issues.

Specifically, the City’s crime rate is down in nearly every category. The drop out rate has been reduced for the first time in 10 years. The number of permit applications and awards are at an historic high, and we are aggressively pursuing new job creation opportunities in the emerging sectors of alternative energy, life sciences, marine science and technology, medical devices, and bio-technology. The City has taken over $5 million in tax title and debilitated property. Development in the city is occurring at a rate not seen before, and there is more contiguous planning than in memory.

While progress in these areas is critical, the Lang Administration and the NBEDC feel that it is the continued success of our current employers that is most important. We must make every effort to retain the city’s outstanding employers like Smith Enterprises.

We are seeking your help, and hope in turn to find ways the City can better support your business needs. We want to ensure the future success of Smith Enterprises as we continue to shape the City’s economic development agenda.

My wish is that you will find an hour to join me, Mayor Lang or NBEDC Executive Director Matthew Morrissey for a brief conversation about how the City of New Bedford can better respond to your company’s needs.

Ms. Deidre Jarvis will follow up this letter with a call to schedule a time most convenient for you.

Sincerely,

Anthony Sapienza
President, NBEDC Board of Directors
President, Joseph Abboud Manufacturing

If you are an employer and you would like to share your thoughts about how we might help you sustain and build your business, please call Deirdre Jarvis at 508.991.3122 to set up an appointment.

NBEDC Seeks to Broaden its Business Base

The New Bedford Economic Development Council voted unanimously on August 15 to broaden its base of Council members to “at least 75”; to form working groups in focus areas of the City’s economic development agenda including: Emerging job sectors; Existing and small business development; Sales, Marketing and Communications; Workforce Development; and the Creative Economy; and to hone its governing board from 24 to 9 members. The vote culminates a four-month review.

“Truly sustainable economic development requires a broad and inclusive base of business support and buy-in,” said Tony Sapienza, president of the Council and president of Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, a company which employs more than 600 people in New Bedford.

“Over the last year, it has become clear that the work of the Council is as important as it has ever been. As the only agency charged with economic development throughout the City, we have been building on the solid work of past and present board leadership. We will expect that each member of the Council will serve on a working group and that our executive director will be communicating with the entire Council weekly,” continued Mr. Sapienza.

“While we respect the concept of the previous configuration of the 24 members of the governing board representing many different organizations, in practice, it has not allowed us to focus on NBEDC’s unique mission,” he said.

The new board of nine members consists of a cross section of the City with three members from the private sector, three from the community at large, two appointed by the Mayor, and the Mayor, ex-officio. The members are: Tony Sapienza, President, Joseph Abboud Mfg. (Chairman); Bill Davis, President and CEO, Ze-gen, Inc.; Peter Kavanaugh, President La-Z-Boy; Katherine Knowles, Executive Director, The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center; Scott W. Lang, Mayor; (Ex officio); Jim Mathes, President, SMILES Mentoring; Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal, Acushnet Co.; Paul Vigeant, Assistant Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (Ex-officio).

In addition, Mayor Lang and members of the NBEDC staff will begin meeting with more than 50 employers throughout the City to ensure that their needs and their ideas are being integrated into the City’s economic development activities.

Two New Staff Members Join the NBEDC

Executive Director Matthew A. Morrissey announced the addition of two new staff members to the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC).

Derek Santos has accepted an offer for the position of Director of Planning and Development.  In this new position, Derek will be responsible for the coordination and implementation of a range of economic development initiatives throughout the city.  He will work closely on business development activities with city departments and state agencies to ensure that there is strong coordination on all economic development-related projects.  Derek will also work within the organization to ensure that its operations run smoothly and efficiently.

For the past 12 years, Derek has been involved on various sides of development projects throughout the city, both in his position as historical architect for the National Park Service and as an active member of the City’s Planning Board.
At the national park, Derek has worked with a wide range of governmental and private agencies and organizations to carry out planning and development in the park.  Derek’s recent responsibilities included managing the planning and construction for the $7M Corson Block rehabilitation and serving as the lead of the planning and design team for the $15M Route 18 Access Improvement Project.

“As the NBEDC continues to build, Derek’s experience with development in the City and his strong background in permitting will be a tremendous asset to our work,” commented Mr. Morrissey.
Derek’s official start date will be on September 4, 2007.

——

Jeffery Robinson has accepted an offer for the New Bedford Economic Development Council’s part-time controller position.  For the last six years, Jeffery has been the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s controller, managing a public budget of $160 million.  Prior to his university position, Jeffery was the controller for Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Mr. Morrissey said, “We are particularly fortunate to have someone of Jeff’s caliber and experience working with us as we grow.”

Mr. Morrissey expressed his thanks to the New Directions team of Brenda Francis and Bill Edward for their assistance in providing outstanding service in interviewing all the first round candidates for the planning and development position.  “They interviewed the top six candidates, ran through a comprehensive list of questions, took detailed notes and provided me with both their notes and scoring. It is a great service that New Directions provides to any employer in the city,” said Mr. Morrissey.

August 9th Grand Opening Helps Build Up-Scale Cluster in Downtown New Bedford

A premier clothing boutique with designer labels, for both men and women, found in the most prominent fashion districts of Boston, Los Angeles and New York, celebrates its grand opening on AHA! Night this coming Thursday, August 9th at its Historic Downtown location at 173 Union Street in New Bedford, Mass..

Attia Clothing, offers labels such as 7, Joe’s Jeans, Paper Denim and Cloth, Citizens and True Religion, along with many of the recently discovered and yet to be discovered designers.

Proprietor Meghan Attia McNally reports how the historic beauty of Downtown New Bedford drew her to the area and decided to make it her home.

“This area is beautiful., The people are wonderful and I believe in the city’s potential. Like many other business owners, that’s why I’m investing in the city and starting my business in Downtown New Bedford. There’s a strong sense of support here.”

Megan sees the real benefit of having businesses already established in the Downtown area. “Businesses are flourishing in the city; and, the people are following. Recently, a couple from Brookline had dinner next to us at a restaurant, Café Balena, and they were excited the store was opening,” said Meghan. “Businesses such as Blush Beauty Bar, Bejeweled, Salon Lola and Cork Wine and Tapas Bar are bringing the same vision of fashion and style to our city. You can now get your nails and hair done at Salon Lola, go to Blush for your make-up, pick up your jewelry at Bejeweled and come to Attia for that special outfit to make your Friday night a fashionable affair at Cork.”

The store will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 – 8:00pm and by appointment for a private shopping experience on Monday. Call 508-997-3053 for more information or to schedule your private appointment.

Attia’s Grand Opening will be held on August 9th in front of the store featuring a first class fashion show by CMG Modeling, Blush Beauty Bar, Bejeweled and Salon Lola along and with the help of Cardoza’s Wine & Spirits, Cork, Franchise Studios and John Farrall Productions.

The event starts at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail hour, ribbon cutting and fashion show and then moves to the backyard at Celia’s for the after party at 9:30 p.m. For an invitation please contact Meghan at mmcnally@attiaclothing.com.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

City to Test Waters for Ferry Service

By Steve Urbon
Standard-Times Senior Correspondent

NEW BEDFORD — Twice-a-day ferry service between State Pier and Woods Hole starts Monday, a four-month trial run for a possible permanent relinking of the two ports after more than four decades.

“The market is not yet determined,” said Kristen Decas, executive director of the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission. “This is part pilot, part assessment.”

Everyone involved, however, points out that the marine sciences labs and schools in the two ports are the primary target of the service, to eliminate the tedious drive across the Cape Cod Canal and around Buzzards Bay.

The HDC, Office of Economic Development and New Bedford Fast Ferry will try to learn who might use this route, who might benefit from it, how often it would run, and how much it should cost, she said.
The experiment is being financed by a $75,000 grant from the state’s Executive Office of Transportation, which is being matched with $25,000 of local money.

New England Fast Ferry, which operates between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard, was the sole bidder, Ms. Decas said. The Steamship Authority didn’t respond, nor did others. “We tried to engage the Salem fast ferry and Boston Harbor Tours, but they didn’t bite,” she said.

Starting Monday, at no charge for the first two weeks, the Woods Hole ferry will leave State Pier at 8:15 a.m. and arrive in Woods Hole at 8:45 a.m. The return trip leaves at 8:55 a.m. and arrives back in the city at 9:25 a.m.

In the evening, the ferry will leave for Woods Hole at 7 p.m., and begin the return trip at 7:40 p.m. for an 8:10 p.m. arrival. From mid-September to mid-December, the morning trips will be 15 minutes earlier, and the evening trips two hours earlier, according to the preliminary schedule.

After the two-week free period, the ferry will cost $5 each way, said Economic Development Director Matthew Morrissey.
Each trip will be accompanied by a survey team, which will collect information from passengers about their interest in the ferry and their particular needs, Ms. Decas said. Meanwhile, the HDC will advertise the ferry service heavily at UMass and elsewhere there might be interest.

That’s especially true of the School of Marine Sciences and Technology, which has many connections with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s labs in Woods Hole.

Dr. Steven Cadrin, director of the Cooperative Marine Education Research Program at UMass, said the ferry ought to be ideal for that effort.

The ferry would be especially helpful for UMass students who live on the Cape, he said.

“Outside of the profession of marine sciences the interest would be shopping,” he said. “There aren’t as many opportunities as here, and I think a day trip would be attractive” for shoppers.

“We think New Bedford has a significant amount to offer Falmouth’s population,” Mr. Morrissey said. That includes “affordable housing for young scientists and other related amenities and activities.”

There hasn’t been regular ferry service from New Bedford to Woods Hole since the Steamship Authority in 1961 discontinued the route serviced by the much-unloved M/V Nantucket, a fuel-guzzling, unreliable white elephant that many believed was put on the New Bedford route to produce red ink — and a reason to shut down the route after a decade of legal wrangling.

Contact Steve Urbon at surbon@s-t.com
August 08, 2007

Tapping into the Market: Local Firms Profit by Taking a Risk, Helping Environment

By Becky W. Evans
Standard-Times Staff Writer

It is said that New Bedford once “lit the world” with whale oil and spermaceti candles procured and produced by the city’s whaling industry, which thrived in the first-half of the 19th century only to collapse in the second half with the discovery of petroleum products.

More than 100 years later, the world’s dependence on oil for energy is being blamed for global warming as well as conflict in the Middle East. Escalating oil prices feed the public’s disillusionment with so-called dirty oil and drive demand for cleaner energy derived from the sun, wind, waves, tides, soybeans and other renewable sources.

By tapping into the growing market for alternative energy sources that emit few, if any, global warming gases, New Bedford officials hope to stimulate the city’s stagnant economy and create much-needed jobs.

“We want to be the key source of alternative energy research and production,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said during a global warming rally this spring at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

With its deep-water port, rail access, cheap housing and skilled labor force, New Bedford has the potential to attract manufacturers of wind turbine parts, solar panels and a variety of other alternative energy products, said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

“The Northeast has massive opportunities for offshore wind,” Mr. Morrissey said. “Turbines and wind blades have to be made somewhere.”

The city appears to have the support of the administration of Gov. Deval Patrick, which is seeking to expand the state’s burgeoning alternative energy sector for the same reasons as New Bedford: economic development and job creation.
“It might actually work in New Bedford €¦ and we want to help with that,” said Ian Bowles, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Massachusetts is home to 556 companies specializing in energy efficiency, renewable energy or clean energy consulting, state officials said. The so-called clean energy technology cluster has created 14,400 jobs and is the second largest in the country, after California, in terms of venture capital investment in the industry, which was $250 million in 2006.

At the inaugural meeting of the state’s Clean Energy Roundtable in June, Gov. Patrick told two dozen executives about his strategy to make Massachusetts a “world center of clean energy technology.” It includes a streamlined permitting process for sites, financial incentives to attract companies and a reformed regulatory environment that supports clean energy.

Since Gov. Patrick took office in January, the administration’s business development and energy and environment officials have met with 50 clean energy companies from inside and outside the state. Their first victory came in April, when Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlborough announced plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Westborough.

The state lured Evergreen with $23 million in grants, up to $17.5 million in low-interest loans, and a low-cost, 30-year lease of the state-owned property in Westborough, according to the Associated Press.

The $150 million plant is expected to create up to 375 jobs when it opens next year.

Massachusetts scored big again in June, when the U.S. Department of Energy chose Charlestown to host a $20 million wind-turbine blade-testing facility.

The announcement was a blow to New Bedford, which had lobbied for the facility to be located on the South Terminal waterfront, next to the Shuster Corp. on Hassey Street. The site was ruled out due to dredging requirements and a study showing it lacked space to move the 330-foot long blades.
Mayor Lang says nothing was lost in trying to compete for the facility.

“I think it was an important exercise to show people we can be a real strong city in regard to providing opportunities for alternative fuels or science,” he said. “I am still very enthusiastic.”

He cites two local companies, Ze-Gen and Vectrix, as evidence that an alternative energy cluster is taking shape in New Bedford.

Ze-Gen set up a trash-to-energy test facility at New Bedford Waste Services, LLC on Shawmut Avenue at the suggestion of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which permitted the project. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s development agency for renewable energy, awarded $500,000 for the facility. An additional $600,000 investment came from the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., a venture capital firm.

The biomass company plans to spend the next year testing whether its gasification technology can convert construction and demolition waste, mostly wood, into a synthetic natural gas that would later be combusted to create electricity. The process is expected to emit fewer global warming gases than leaving the waste in a landfill or generating the electricity from fossil fuels.

If the concept proves successful, company president Bill Davis says the next step would be building a full scale plant, most likely in New Bedford.

“We’ve had enormous receptivity on the part of the city, which is creating a cluster around clean technology,” he said. “That kind of commitment from the city makes it a whole lot easier to move quickly, and our objective is to move quickly €¦ There is a great local workforce available to us and relationships have already been built.”

On the opposite side of the city, Vectrix has been designing and testing high-performance electric scooters for the past nine years in the old Berkshire Hathaway mill complex in the South End. The company has 21 employees.

Peter Hughes, vice president of technology for Vectrix, says New Bedford was chosen for the pilot testing facility due to its cheap rent, access to good engineering talent, and proximity to Providence, Boston and Cape Cod. Those same features should continue to draw alternative energy companies to the area, Mr. Hughes said.

The company is opening a scooter manufacturing facility in Poland to be near its target market in Italy, he said. Electric scooters, which don’t pollute the air as much as gas-powered scooters, are in high demand in Europe, but the market has yet to take off in the United States.

Jim Sweeney of Sustainable New Energy, also known as CCI Energy, calls himself an energy consultant and project developer. He opened the New Bedford branch of his Plymouth-based company at the Quest Center on Purchase Street in January 2007, hoping to gain a foothold in SouthCoast’s emerging renewable energy sector. So far, he is involved with turbine projects in Fairhaven and Dartmouth, and has proposed an additional project to power the New Bedford wastewater treatment plant with three turbines.

Mr. Sweeney, who was recently appointed to the mayor’s sustainability task force, is optimistic that alternative energy could bring economic rewards to New Bedford, but to attract more companies the city needs to improve its green image.
“New Bedford has got to be the leader in environmental issues to make people want to set up shop here,” he said.

He suggests the city install “lots of renewable energy” and push the use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel for the fishing fleet.

Commerical fishing fleets contribute to global warming by burning fossils such as marine diesel. The world’s fisheries account for about 1.2 percent of global oil consumption and emit 130 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, according to a 2005 study published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. If ranked as a country, fisheries would share the Netherlands’ position as the 18th most oil consuming nation in the world.

Other items on Mr. Sweeney’s “green wish list” for the city include new building codes that promote energy efficiency as well as bylaws for zoning areas for wind turbines.

Clyde Barrow, executive director of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis, doesn’t think New Bedford needs to get any greener to attract alternative energy companies, though, he says, it could provide an added incentive.

“One of the things governments can do with new industries is provide an initial market for that project,” Dr. Barrow said. “It becomes a way to nurture and incubate those firms.”

Examples include using wind to power wastewater treatment plants or solar to power schools and other municipal buildings, he said.

To woo Evergreen to Westborough, the state set a goal of increasing installed solar power from 2 megawatts to 250 megawatts within 10 years, according to state officials. It also brokered a partnership between Evergreen and NSTAR to market solar power to electricity customers.

Gestures such as that will help attract additional clean energy companies to Massachusetts, said Warren Leon, who directs the Renewable Energy Trust for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Companies go to states where they feel wanted,” Mr. Leon said. “I think clean energy companies feel wanted in Massachusetts.”

The trust, which is the financial arm of the collaborative, recently made a $300,000 loan to a small start-up company in Fall River. Ocean Renewable Power Company, which is setting up its headquarters at the UMass Dartmouth Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center in Fall River, will build systems that generate electricity from ocean tidal energy, Mr. Leon said.

He says the company is a good example of the type of alternative energy businesses that will be attracted to Massachusetts. Bigger manufacturing facilities such as Evergreen Solar will be the exception.

“We are seeing a large number of small start-up companies,” he said. “We hope that some of these companies will grow and prosper and that ultimately there will be a large number of jobs.”
Whether those jobs will come to New Bedford is difficult to predict.

“We could extol the virtues of various parts of the state, but ultimately companies have to decide based on their business interests,” he said.

Mr. Morrissey, who heads up the New Bedford Economic Development Council, says New Bedford is well positioned to become a center for alternative energy, but the city isn’t banking on the sector as its only economic driver.

He sees alternative energy as “a spoke on the wheel” along with life sciences, healthcare, biotechnology and marine science.

“New Bedford’s economy must be diversified to sustain the ups and owns,” he said. “In the past, the city was too dependent on one industry. We have to diversify.”

It remains to be seen if New Bedford’s alternative energy sector will grow large enough to light the world again—or at least, SouthCoast.

Contact Becky W. Evans at revans@s-t.com
Published: July 29, 2007

Ze-gen, Inc. Hosts Ribbon Cutting at Demonstration Facility in New Bedford

Facility will Pilot Company’s Innovative Waste Gasification and Renewable Energy Generation Technology

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ze-gen, Inc., a clean energy company providing advanced gasification technology to convert waste streams into synthetic natural gas and low emissions electrical energy, is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony today to mark the opening of its newly constructed demonstration facility in New Bedford, MA. The facility is located at New Bedford Waste Services, LLC (NBWS) at 1245 Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

“New Bedford is thrilled to welcome the Ze-gen facility to our community. The company strives to not only provide an environmentally preferable alternative to landfilling but also provides the City of New Bedford with job creation and opportunities for economic growth,” said Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford. “We look forward to working with Ze-gen in the coming months as the facility’s technology and operations are tested, and down the road as they develop into a full-scale, full capacity facility.”

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded Ze-gen with operational permits at the end of 2006, which allow the demonstration plant to operate for 12 months. This limited-time operation will allow Ze-gen to collect all the data on the system and the resulting synthetic gas needed to design a full-scale facility, which the company would like to locate in New Bedford.

“Ze-gen’s gasification process is an important experiment in using an innovative technology and different feedstocks to generate clean energy,” said David Cash, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “We are eager to see the results of the test operations.”

“We are very excited to be launching our demonstration facility today in New Bedford,” said Bill Davis, President and CEO of Ze-gen. “This is the first step in testing the mechanics of our operation and will allow us to perfect our technology and position us for the launch of a full-scale facility. We’re encouraged to have such enthusiastic support from the City of New Bedford, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other state entities, and we are thankful for everyone’s efforts in realizing this project.”

NBWS’s facility has been site assigned by the City of New Bedford and permitted by DEP to handle, process and transfer up to 1,500 tons per day of C&D material, municipal solid waste (MSW) and scrap tires.
About Ze-gen, Inc.

Ze-gen was founded in mid-2004 to develop and deploy advanced gasification technology which converts municipal waste streams into energy and other beneficial products such as synthetic natural gas with virtually zero emissions. In addition to the environmental problems associated with conventional means of waste disposal, there is considerable energy content in ordinary waste streams such as construction and demolition debris and municipal solid waste. Industry data suggests that in the United States alone, over 50,000 megawatts of latent energy potential is unexploited every year as these waste streams are buried in landfills. Ze-gen is poised to be the market leader in the environmentally friendly re-purposing of these waste streams into renewable energy. For more information and a multimedia glimpse of the future,
visit www.ze-gen.com.