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.

Betting on the Arts to Revitalize the City

By Natalie Myers,
Providence Business News Staff Writer

Lori Bradley recognizes the impact the creative economy is making in New Bedford.

As a ceramics/mixed-media artist and as part owner of a six-artist cooperative gallery downtown – MOSAIC Gallery, which opened two weeks ago – Bradley is also part of the creative economy that has spurred mill renovations, mixed-use developments and a host of new businesses to emerge in New Bedford.

Developers, city officials, nonprofit arts organization staff, artists and gallery owners are hopeful the trend will pull the city out of its economic malaise.

Walking down William Street, Matt Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, pointed out No Problemo. The restaurant, which serves tacos, burritos and quesadillas, has been there for five years.
Then Morrissey pointed out a small music store, a skateboard store and a DVD store around the corner.
“None of these were here three years ago,” he said.

Farther down William Street, making a left onto Acushnet Avenue, Morrissey highlighted Dyer Brown & Associates Architects, which also has offices in Boston and Wellesley, and C. Raymond Hunt Associates Inc., which moved to New Bedford from Boston last summer.

He called attracting the architecture firm and yacht designing firm the third stage of the creative economy.

Morrissey said the first stage was the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s 2001 opening of the Star Store campus on Purchase Street in downtown New Bedford. The university redeveloped the landmark department store into a hub for its college of visual and performing arts.

Since then, many students taking classes there have stayed in the city because they are attracted to the cheap rents, Bradley said. Some studio mill space is as cheap as $200 per month.

The second stage of creative economy development involves attracting the eclectic shops and restaurants such as No Problemo, Morrissey said. The hope is to get to the third stage, where the city is attracting the high-wage creative companies. But one link in the chain leads to the next, he said. And that process is what the city wants to maintain.
“The mayor does not want to see any resident or artist priced out of the New Bedford market,” Morrissey said. “We are carefully planning to ensure there is a very clear balance.”

But Bradley said she already sees some artists feeling pushed out of the market.

On Cove Street, developers have plans to redevelop two mill buildings occupied by artists into 248 market-rate lofts. Bradley said those artists feel especially worried about displacement because they are by the water. They’re not sure how long they will be able to stay, she said.

Also along New Bedford’s industrial waterfront there is a huge project involving the redevelopment of Wamsutta Mill into 250 condominiums and apartments, said Patrick Sullivan, director of the office of housing and community development for the city.

“We have four to five projects underway right now as far as converting existing mills into residential space,” he said.
The Ropeworks Building, not far from the industrial waterfront, is one of those projects. But it has a different mission.
The goal of Ropeworks is to provide mill live/work space only to visual artists, said Norm Buck, developer of the mill. The 14 spaces range from 1,000 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet and cost between $150,000 and $400,000 to purchase. Twelve of the 14 spaces already have been purchased.

“We’re one facet of what it takes to have a creative economy,” said Adam Buck, who is developing the site with his father, Norm. Adam Buck added that when artists purchase space, it is one of the only ways to ensure they won’t get priced out of the market.

But Bradley sees another problem. She said most artists have trouble affording the $250,000-range lofts like those at Ropeworks, and there is no other project like Ropeworks in the city.

She said she wishes the city or a private owner would sell one of the mill buildings in the city to a group of artists for them to renovate themselves. She hopes it would be subsidized so that the artist-owned space could be set at affordable rates for purchase. She sees that as one option to ensure artists will stay.

In the meantime, Mayor Scott Lang recently announced the creation of a new position in the city – a creative economy liaison position. The person who fills the position would be responsible for attracting creative businesses such as architects and designers to the city, in addition to helping individual artists market their crafts.

He or she will be the go-to person for anyone inquiring about anything related to the city’s creative economy, said Elizabeth Treadup, spokeswoman for Lang.

For now, the city’s artists and arts organizations will have to rely on AHA!, a nonprofit formed in 1999 dedicated to promoting New Bedford’s art, history and architecture, for marketing and promotion of the arts.

Several artists, galleries, theaters, restaurants and stores have benefited from the nonprofit’s free monthly cultural event, similar to Providence’s Gallery Nights but inclusive of the city’s historical museums and live music, which is held on the second Thursday of every month.

The event has turned the city into a destination, said Nilsa Garcia-Rey, executive director of Gallery X at 169 William St. Founded in 1990, the nonprofit artist co-op gallery was one of the first galleries to open in the city.

AHA!’s annual open studios also attract many visitors. In its third year, the event has grown significantly, which some say is a testament to the growing creative economy in the city.

Margie Butler, program director for AHA!, said in 2005 the open studios took place in five locations. It involved 65 participating artists and attracted 633 unique visitors. Last year it involved nine locations, 81 artists and 1,165 documented visitors, she said.

This year the event, to be held Sept. 29-30, is expected to showcase more than 100 artists who live and/or work in New Bedford.

But Garcia-Rey said that despite AHA!’s efforts, “I’m a realist, I see artists struggling. I see a struggling economy in New Bedford … there isn’t a whole lot of employment in the city. Artists have to struggle to be resourceful” and take outside jobs.

Garcia-Rey also sees a need to change New Bedford’s image.

“You only see TV vans when there’s a horrible tragedy,” she said. “The perception of New Bedford is formed by that. People from surrounding communities don’t want to come into town because they’re afraid.”
Still, Garcia-Rey said she sees people coming from cities such as Providence to attend the monthly AHA! events.
“It’s happening slowly,” she said. “We all want it to happen faster.”
Posted Jul. 16, 2007

New Bedford Holds Onto Title as Richest Fishing Port

By Becky Evans
Standard-Times Staff Writer

New Bedford fishermen hauled in $281.2 million worth of seafood in 2006 to capture the title of the nation’s most valuable port for the seventh year in a row, according to a report released Thursday by NOAA Fisheries.

The city maintained its No. 1 ranking despite restrictive groundfish regulations that have kept fishermen from catching large amounts of high-value stocks such as cod, said Richard Canastra, co-owner of the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction.

“The scallop industry is doing well, but the groundfish fishery is having a hard time,” Mr. Canastra said.
Landings of sea scallops, lobster, ocean quahogs, flatfish, Atlantic mackerel and herring helped the Whaling City earn the top ranking in 2006 in terms of the dollar value of the catch, according to the report. Meanwhile, for the 18th consecutive year, Dutch-Harbor Unalaska held onto the No. 1 ranking in terms of overall seafood landings. The Alaskan port recorded a catch of 911.3 million pounds of seafood in 2006. In that category, New Bedford placed seventh with 169.9 million pounds of fish and shellfish.

In 2005, New Bedford landed 153.4 million pounds of seafood for a total value of $282.5 million.
How did the port land more seafood for less money in 2006?

Mr. Canastra said it has to do with groundfish regulations aimed at reviving depleted stocks of cod, yellowtail flounder and other fish that swim along the bottom of the ocean. The regulations forced fishermen to target low-value stocks instead of high-value stocks, he said. Instead of landing cod, which can sell for $2 per pound, fishermen caught lots of skate wings, which sell for around 40 cents per pound, he said.

As for the higher amount of landings, Mr. Canastra attributed it to the addition of Southern scallopers that fished out of New Bedford in 2006 to be closer to scallop fishing grounds.

Jim Kendall, a former scallop fishermen who now heads up New Bedford Seafood Consulting, blamed the $1.3 million drop in the value of New Bedford’s landings on a weak U.S. dollar in 2006.

When the dollar drops in value, market prices for seafood fall, too, he said, adding that this is good news for consumers but bad news for the industry.

Although the city’s groundfish fleet may be struggling, two new plants that harvest and process herring and mackerel are doing well and adding value to New Bedford’s seafood landings, Mr. Kendall said.

He noted that the $281.2 million in landings translates to about a $1 billion injection into the New Bedford economy when considering the contributions of shore-side seafood businesses.

The annual rankings are a source of pride for New Bedford fishermen and “a bellwether” of how their industry is faring, Mr. Kendall said.

“When you look at the tightening of regulations and management actions, to be able to hold onto that distinction of being the number one port means we are doing a lot of things right,” he said.
Contact Becky W. Evans at revans@s-t.com
July 13, 2007

New Task Force Studies Alternative Energy

By Becky Evans
Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Scott W. Lang has launched a new task force to advise him in making the city more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

The group is charged with identifying “things that New Bedford can do to immediately cut costs and increase conservation,” Mayor Lang said.

Recommendations and implementation plans for municipal energy and environmental initiatives will be submitted to the mayor in the fall. The mayor will review the findings and “prioritize them based upon feasibility and anticipated results,” according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Thirty-two members were appointed to the task force, including nine city department heads.

The group will seek public involvement and guest presenters throughout the process.

“We have assembled a team of residents with expertise on these issues who are passionate about energy efficiency, sustainability and improving the environment in our city to complete this assessment and provide us with comprehensive feedback,” he said.

Former Mayor John K. Bullard, who was trained in global warming issues by Al Gore, will lead the group.

“The time for debating whether climate change is happening is over,” he said in a prepared statement.

“As the International Panel on Climate Change has reported, we must fashion mitigation strategies to minimize carbon emissions and plan adaptations to counter the impacts that are inevitable from the momentum already in the system.

Given the situation in Washington, it is likely that the most meaningful actions will be those that occur at the local level.”
The task force includes the following members: Scott Alfonse, John Andrade, Kenneth Blanchard, Mr. Bullard, Ron DiPippo, Lynn Donahue, Dennis Galvam, Guilermo Gonzalez, Susan Jennings, Emily Johns, Gary Kaplan, Peter Kavanaugh, Ronald Labelle, Rafael Leonor, Jill Maclean, Jennifer Marshall, Bruce Morell, Matthew Morrissey, Lee Nason, David Oliveira, Lawrence Oliveira, Marissa Perez-Dormitzer, Laurie Robertson-Lorant, Luis Rodriguez, Carol Steinfeld, Robert Sudduth, James Sweeney, Charles Tavares, Elizabeth Treadup, John Vasconcellos, Richard Walega and Lawrence Worden.

Contact Becky W. Evans at revans@s-t.com
July 20, 2007

Mayor Names New Director of Tourism & Marketing

Mayor Scott W. Lang has appointed Ms. Ann Marie Lopes as the new director of the New Bedford Office of Tourism and Marketing. After reviewing a pool of 18 different applicants, the City Tourism and Marketing Director Search Committee unanimously recommended Ann Marie Lopes for the position.

Ms. Lopes has a Master of Arts Degree in English from Brown University in English and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Wellesley College. Ms. Lopes has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications at both the regional and national level. Most recently, she served as the Senior Program Specialist for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Division Professional and Continuing Education.

“I am confident that Ms. Lopes will strengthen and enhance New Bedford’s tourism industry in her position as the Director of Tourism and Marketing. She has the expertise to promote our city. Born and raised in New Bedford, Ann is well known and respected throughout the community and I look forward to the fresh, new perspective she offers,” said Mayor Lang.

Ms. Lopes is eager to begin working in her new position. Ms. Lopes said, “I look forward to joining the Lang Administration in the position as Director of Tourism and Marketing. I am excited about the opportunities to showcase all that New Bedford has to offer. I love this city!”

City Engages Prominent State Agency on Economic Development and Planning

Prominent State Agency to Assist New Bedford on Waterfront
By Jack Spillane Standard-Times Staff Writer

NEW BEDFORD — A state planning and finance agency that specializes in spurring economic development in difficult environments has agreed to assist in the development of the city’s long-struggling waterfront.

Mass Development, a quasi-public agency created in 1994, will design an economic development plan for an area that runs roughly from the old Aerovox factory in the North End to the NStar building near the downtown.

The plan — which will be designed to complement various city plans including the master plan, harbor development plan, downtown plan, the Route 18 plan and others — will focus on Acushnet River areas that are considered key to the future economic development of the city.

Among those target areas are the former Aerovox and Cliftex mills; the Fairhaven Mills; the waterfront area of Hicks Logan; the state pier and the former NStar plant.

The agency will also study the overall economy of New Bedford, especially the maritime economy.

Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the Greater New Bedford Economic Development Council, said the plan has been in the discussion phase for about a year.

“It is very exciting,” he said, describing Mass Development (or the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency) as the premier development agency in the state. It is an agency that has access to large pools of capital as well as connections with the most important state agencies and private businesses, he said.

A memorandum of understanding is expected to be executed between the EDC and Mass Development in the near future. Roughly $100,000 in Mass Development staff and consultant assistance is envisioned for the planning effort.

The quasi-state agency also has the capacity to grant tax-exempt bonds and low-interest loans. It has won plaudits for its redevelopment of the former Fort Devens area in central Massachusetts and the Leverett Saltonstall state office building in Boston.

Mr. Morrissey described Mass Development’s interest in the city as a great opportunity.

“They believe the city has the right leadership and basic assets that rival any city in the commonwealth,” he said.
Richard Henderson, an executive vice president for real estate with Mass Development, said the city has a great waterfront and a significant collection of historic buildings that make it attractive for investment.

“We do think there’s a real opportunity here to make a real difference,” he said.

Mass Development is a so-called “double bottom line” agency — it often subsidizes difficult urban investments with its earnings from other projects.

It felt the city could benefit from its ability to coordinate ongoing municipal planning in areas like Hicks Logan, Route 18 and the downtown where issues like traffic and compatible uses will be important, he said.

The city needs to keep its planning efforts working together, “to make sure they’re speaking to each other and communicating with each other,” he said.

“Out in Springfield, they called us their deep bench,” Mr. Henderson said of his agency’s redevelopment efforts in the western Massachusetts city with a similar demographic profile to New Bedford.

Mayor Scott W. Lang said the city this year has reached out to both Mass Development and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for assistance with economic development planning.

Mass Development has already assisted the city in the development of the request for proposals at Fairhaven Mills, the attempts to convince Revere Copper and Brass to temporarily keep its plant open and the harbor master plan, he said.
“I’m excited about the partnership with them,” he said. “I think we’re building good relationships with planners that have tremendous planning expertise.”

New Bedford is seen as one of the most promising urban areas in the state, and Mass Development has the ability to capitalize on that potential, Mr. Morrissey contended. But the city is limited in the size of its planning department and financial capacity and is in need of assistance in both areas.

“The kind of opportunities New Bedford has for the future exceed some of its resources,” he said.

The city is in need of a solid economic development study of the multiplier effects of development along the waterfront; how to build a diversified economy that doesn’t depend on one single industry like the textiles or whaling; and ways to capitalize on the emerging spin-off economies of fishing, alternative energy, marine science, medical devices, bio-tech and creativity industries.

“They’ll provide opportunities for us to better understand what targets we need to focus on as we build this sector,” he said of Mass Development and the waterfront.

New Bedford, in the past, has not done the planning that allows it to capitalize on its own resources, Mr. Morrissey argued.
Mass Development’s efforts will lead to re-zonings that will prevent bad planning like the City Council voting to demolish one of the largest mills in the city with only a brief, nonprofessional analysis, he said.

He was categorizing the City Council vote last week allowing the owner of one of the largest waterfront mills to tear the building down.

“These things won’t happen again with strategic planning,” Mr. Morrissey said.

Contact Jack Spillane at jspillane@s-t.com
Publication date: June 27, 2007

New Bedford is Open for Business: Mayor Announces Permitting Overhaul

New Bedford, Massachusetts- Mayor Scott W. Lang announced on June 28th a two-stage initiative to streamline the City permitting process to make it easily understandable and accessible for citizens as well as to facilitate business expansion and recruitment. Mayor Lang is working with the New Bedford Economic Development Council and numerous city departments on this streamlining project.

“This will allow us to simplify a sometimes cumbersome process that everyone from the average citizen to the major developer must adhere to in order to build or relocate. A streamlined process benefits both the city and developers, saving time and energy for city employees and for businesses and potential investors in New Bedford’s economy,” said Mayor Lang.

First, Mayor Scott W. Lang has assembled a “Permitting Task Force” comprised of a representative from each city department and board or commission that is regularly involved in New Bedford’s permit approval process. These include: City Planning, Inspectional Services, Public Infrastructure, Fire Department, Health Department, Office of the City Solicitor, Office of Community Development and the Economic Development Council. The task force will work to determine ways of improving the city’s permitting process, examining other municipalities to learn of best practices.

Secondly, the Mayor has created “First Stop,” a one-stop weekly public meeting at which citizens interested in seeking a permit will receive general guidance from each department.  A simple comprehensive meeting at the beginning of the permitting process will help alleviate some of the common misunderstandings that can occur with any permitting process.
At the weekly “First Stop” meetings, each citizen seeking a permit will have 20 minutes to present their project and ask questions of the various city department representatives regarding the permitting process.

The weekly meetings will commence on July 20, 2007. Anyone interested in attending a First Stop meeting must call the City of New Bedford Planning Department at (508) 979-1488 to schedule a time to present to the Permitting Task Force.
“I am enthusiastic about these improvements,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang. “Anything that makes city government more accessible and transparent to the public is a move in the right direction.”

Scallop Stocks in Good Shape; Good News for New Bedford

By Becky W. Evans
Standard-Times Staff Writer

Northeast sea scallop stocks have been rebuilt to sustainable levels and taken off a list of fish species regulators are legally required to manage back to healthy populations, according to a new report released by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The 2006 report on the status of U.S. fish stocks shows that scallops are “no longer subject to overfishing,” which the agency defines as having a harvesting rate that is at or below a prescribed fishing mortality rate. In other words, the current rate of fishing is not going to deplete the stock.

The change in status is good news for New Bedford’s profitable scallop industry, which helped the city earn its reputation as the top money-making fishing port in the country in 2005, with fish landings worth $282.5 million. Scallops are currently selling for around $6.50 per pound, down from nearly $10 per pound in December 2005.

Jim Kendall, a former scallop fisherman who heads up New Bedford Seafood Consulting, said he is happy to see scallop stocks “rebound so quickly.”

“We will possibly gain more fishing time or more landings,” Mr. Kendall said.

Fishery managers consider the status of the scallop stock each year before determining how many fishing days will be allotted to the scallop fleet, he said.

A healthier stock could translate into more fishing days, he said.

Kevin Stokesbury, who leads the scallop research program at the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, said video surveys show that the sea scallop stock biomass, or total weight, has not changed the past three years.

“It is holding steady,” Dr. Stokesbury said.

Despite the overall health of the stock, he noted that there is “some concern” regarding low recruitment of young scallops, or the amount of scallops that are added to the exploitable stock each year.

This may not be a problem since recruitment occurs in “pulses” and is not always the same from year to year, he said.
Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said achieving a sustainable population is “great news” for the scallop stock.

But fishery managers will have to remain vigilant about keeping the stock healthy, she said.

“Sustainability is not something that happens once,” she said. “You have to work on it all the time.”

The fisheries service releases an annual report that describes both the state of U.S. marine fisheries and the effectiveness of fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The act was recently updated and now requires managers to revise fishery management plans to end overfishing by 2010.

The 2006 report, which was released Friday, shows 47 of 187 fish stocks and multi-species groupings were classified as overfished, or a stock size that is below sustainable levels. Another 48 stocks were found to be subject to overfishing.
“Overfishing must be solved now,” National Marine Fisheries Service director Bill Hogarth said in a statement.

“We have the right combination of legal tools to improve stewardship, and we’re moving full throttle ahead with implementing the new mandate to end overfishing so future generations of Americans can enjoy sustainable and healthy marine ecosystems.”