Today U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine announced a $200,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the New Bedford Economic Development Corporation, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The grant will support the creation of an advanced port development and redevelopment plan that will guide the city as it works to attract new types of manufacturing and jobs associated with wind power infrastructure, commercial fishing, and tourism.
“Planning is a critical component of any economic development project,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “This EDA investment will allow New Bedford to move forward in increasing and diversifying its job base by attracting private sector investment for the offshore wind industry related to specialized large scale manufacturing while also providing support for the city’s longstanding commercial fishing and cultural tourism sectors.”
“New Bedford Harbor is the economic backbone of the City’s economy and we need to plan now to ensure the future viability of existing waterfront industries as well as to maximize future opportunities for new economic activities to take hold. The process to secure these funds was extremely competitive and our success reflects both widespread support in the community for our application and the EDA’s confidence in New Bedford. On behalf of the City, I want to express my gratitude to the Obama Administration and EDA for this award,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.
The EDA investment will allow for the development of a master and urban renewal plan that will create a vision for a working waterfront. The grantee indicated that the strategy will focus on phased development that can integrate offshore wind, commercial fishing, and cultural tourism. The master plan will develop design principles for new construction and public spaces and give strong consideration to development adjacent to the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, NSTAR site, and State Pier. Preliminary visioning exercises will outline potential development over a 10-15 year timeframe. The civic engagement will include key private and public sector stakeholders, district commercial property owners, and operating businesses to involve the public throughout all phases of the planning process.
The promotion of working waterfronts is a U.S. Department of Commerce effort. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and EDA have provided support to the National Working Waterfront Network so that municipalities, federal and state agencies, businesses and community development organizations can pool resources and best practices.
In addition, an EDA Research and Evaluation Program grant to the Island Institute helped to develop The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit, a web-based information portal that contains a wealth of information about the historical and current use of waterfront space, the economic value of working waterfronts, and legal, policy, and financing tools that can be used to preserve, enhance, and protect these valuable areas.