In yet another example of how local chambers of commerce are at the forefront of identifying and seizing on the changing economic development opportunities in energy, the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce hosted an event last month about the new offshore wind industry.
It’s a big change from the days when New Bedford was a leading whaling center, with ships regularly setting out in search of both whales and energy. But it also clearly reflects changing winds of opportunity in energy today.
“We are excited by the job and investment growth that offshore wind development could offer to our member businesses and community,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the 1,000-member New Bedford Chamber. “We also recognize that local chambers of commerce are the ideal places to host conversations about the new economic opportunities in clean energy and other dynamic industries.”
The event featured speakers from the New Bedford Economic Development Council, Eversource, the New Bedford Wind Energy Center, and others.
“New Bedford should absolutely be the national cluster for offshore wind” as a center of operations and workforce training, said Derek Santos, Executive Director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “There should be no reason why folks aren’t trained in New Bedford for projects all over the eastern coast of the United States.”
An estimated 60,000 people currently work in the offshore wind industry in Europe. In the United States, an estimated 43,000 jobs are expected by 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The first commercial offshore wind project began operations in 2016 off Block Island, Rhode Island. New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia have approved offshore wind projects in development. And Massachusetts, New York and Maryland have proposed offshore wind projects under consideration.