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Don’t squander State Pier opportunity

The Day’s editorial on Nov. 30, “Bridge, museum must be treated as one” concludes with an essential point in response to Georgia’s threat to edge in on the National Coast Guard Museum: “Don’t let divisions allow someplace else to steal a project intended for New London.”

I am concerned that New London runs the same risk of losing its early and advantageous foothold in offshore energy if disagreements around State Pier improvements persist.

Major players in the offshore energy market have put the historic port of New London on the world stage with the exciting opportunity to be part of the green energy movement. This opportunity will fuel 400 new construction jobs as part of the State Pier redevelopment in the coming years, followed by wind-energy construction jobs thereafter. This project would provide long-term economic development and diversification. Ripple effects of these high-quality jobs and the activity at the port will be felt economically across the region and state.

All of this is contingent on making overdue and costly upgrades to the substandard capabilities of State Pier. This project adds the needed heavy-lift capabilities that will equip the port for wind energy projects as well as increase the region’s cargo capacity for decades to come. An agreement of the state, port operator Gateway Terminal, and joint venture partners Eversource and Ørsted will guide the redevelopment of the pier with a combined public-private investment of $157 million. Leveraging these private dollars makes this enormous undertaking feasible. Given limited state resources, this level of investment would not happen without private-sector partnership.

It is a complex project governed by a multifaceted agreement that involves and affects many entities. Moving forward, a project of this scale necessarily hits some unanticipated bumps. Missteps have been made and corrected along the way. This opportunity, however, cannot be squandered in the face of these obstacles. Overwhelmingly, it promises exceptional economic growth for the region and places Connecticut squarely at the forefront of the new green economy, helping the nation and state to meet new environmental standards.

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut board of directors has unanimously approved a resolution in support of the State Pier redevelopment project as it uniquely positions the region to enter this burgeoning green industry, offers high-quality, much-needed jobs in the aftermath of the pandemic, and builds future economic development opportunities for our region’s strong manufacturing, construction and technology sectors.

The Chamber board strongly encourages all parties involved to proceed without delay to capture this extraordinary opportunity for New London and the region.

Tony Sheridan is the president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

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