PROVIDENCE — British offshore wind consultant Bruce Valpy had been to the SouthCoast booth at the American Wind Energy Association’s Offshore Wind Conference twice already looking for a man he called “Matt Moore.”
On his third try Wednesday morning he found Mayor Jon Mitchell, who figured out that “Matt Moore” was actually Wind Energy Center Director Matthew Morrissey, standing nearby.
“I hear you’re the guy to talk to about New Bedford,” Valpy said to Morrissey, and the two set up a time to meet for coffee later in the day.
Later, Valpy told The Standard-Times his interest in New Bedford stemmed from “considerable” buzz about the city and its efforts to prepare for offshore wind.
“I’ve been hearing that if anywhere is likely to grow up as a center for offshore wind farms, it is New Bedford,” he said. “In the European market, the guys that put themselves out there in the beginning are were ones who won, which is what I hear New Bedford is doing.”
That’s exactly what Morrissey is going for.
In New Bedford, Morrissey’s pitch about offshore wind centers is on convincing residents that the industry is actually coming and explaining to them how to prepare for employment opportunities once it does.
At the offshore wind conference, he pitches that New Bedford has earned whatever business and economic development might result from the industry coming to America; it’s the city’s birthright.
At a 7 a.m. breakfast hosted by the New Bedford Economic Development Council and attended by 30 developers and manufacturers, Mitchell outlined the city’s whaling history and preeminence as a fishing port. The bottom line was that “Our people know what they are doing out at sea.”
It was similar to a presentation Morrissey gave the day before at a panel about port logistics. Other panelists in that session outlined their port’s logistic advantages; how heavy a load they could carry, how accessible the port facility was from land and by sea.
Morrissey did that, too, but he focused on New Bedford’s “story of a port city lifting itself up by its boot straps” with “a history of people working on the water and near the water.”
Morrissey’s efforts at the conference are a natural extension of the work he does for the EDC. Just this week a delegation from Germany took a tour of the city to inspect South Terminal’s progress. Another is expected in early November.
The result is people such as Valpy searching the conference for Morrissey, who could barely finish a conversation before someone else approached him with his or her card. They came from South Carolina, England, Germany and Denmark, among other places. Instead of merely exchanging information, Morrissey took it one step further.
“What are you doing in 30 minutes?” he asked, and arranged to meet them for coffee, or, in one case, at a whiskey tasting happening in the exhibition hall.
“Every person we come in contact with, we want to leave as a friend of New Bedford,” Morrissey said. “Every industry in the city can use a friend, and that’s never more true than offshore wind because it’s still developing.”
The networking does come at a price. As one of eight sponsors of the conference, the Economic Development Council had to pay $5,000 in corporate-raised funds. The SouthCoast booth at the conference was funded with an additional $330 from the SouthCoast Development Partnership.
But on Wednesday, Morrissey said it was worth it for name recognition alone.
The South Terminal was mentioned in sessions where no city representative was on the panel. And at the New Bedford booth, Lauren Costello of the EDC noted that those who approached already knew about the city’s efforts.
“We’re part of the conversation already,” she said.
That’s what Morrissey was going for. Introducing himself at the New Bedford breakfast Wednesday morning, he made his mission clear: “If I don’t know you, I’m looking forward to getting to know you,” he said.
Source: The Standard Times
By Ariel Wittenberg
October 23, 2013 3:48 PM