Earlier this month, Josh Bass, President of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce, traveled from the far northeast corner of the state to Huntersville, NC, to tour the SAERTEX manufacturing facility and participate in a strategy session. The SAERTEX facility leads the world in the production of the high-tech and light-weight materials used to produce turbine blades.
The tour of the facility was followed by a strategy session with SAERTEX leaders, Representative John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), federal officials, wind industry experts and the Huntersville Chamber of Commerce. The goal of the strategy session was to determine how best to attract large manufacturers involved in the offshore wind supply chain to Currituck County and North Carolina as a whole.
It is estimated that North Carolina would gain 5,500 jobs, $251 million in wages, and $710 million in economic benefit from offshore development. Landing a major manufacturer from the supply chain would be game-changing for any county.
Currently, the nation's only developed offshore commercial wind project is off the coast of Rhode Island. The technology is fairly new and there is no existing supply chain of American companies manufacturing these more advanced turbine components. Components for the RI project were imported from Europe.
"I enjoyed going and learning first-hand about the manufacturing process. I was amazed to learn that all components for off shore wind turbines are currently manufactured overseas. We would like to see a major manufacturing facility in North Carolina. Whoever is able to attract the offshore wind turbine plants will land hundreds of jobs in their community - and we need to be sure we don't miss this opportunity," said Josh Bass, Currituck Chamber of Commerce President & CEO.
The Currituck Chamber has already seen the positive economic benefits that wind energy has provided to neighboring Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties, home to Amazon Wind East, NC's first wind project. Amazon Wind East is the largest taxpayer in each of those counties, generating tens of millions of dollars for the local economy.
Chambers for Innovation and the SE Wind Coalition organized the above tour and strategy session.