State Pier deal a step toward regional economic growth

When the state legislature established the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA), it had the foresight to create a quasi-state agency with the ability to produce new public-private partnerships for the benefit of state residents.

Earlier this week, the CPA leveraged that ability when it selected Connecticut-based Gateway New London LLC as the new long-term operator of State Pier, with a 20-year agreement that positions State Pier as an economic driver.

The CPA and Gateway share a vision for increasing the capacity of State Pier through expanding conventional cargo movements and capturing emerging opportunities, like offshore wind. The CPA intentionally chose a terminal operator who was willing to pursue a mix of traditional and emerging opportunities, and now our formal partnership enables us to turn our shared vision into a reality.

What does this mean for New London and the rest of southeast Connecticut? It means the increased productivity at State Pier will have meaningful benefits to the community.

The primary objective of the CPA has always been to strategically invest in maritime assets that benefit the economy and create good, stable jobs for Connecticut workers. To put it another way, the CPA identifies short-term investments that drive long-term gains.

This agreement captures the spirit of that mission, and sets us on the path to expanded activity at State Pier – both now and in the future. With this agreement in place, we can also now take a major step towards establishing New London as a potential northeast hub for the emerging offshore wind market.

As of today, $48 million has been pledged for infrastructure improvements at State Pier, through public and private investments. Local workers will be needed to bring these plans to life at the pier, and as further improvements are needed to potentially accommodate new industries, the need for an experienced, skilled workforce will only increase.

In addition to infrastructure improvements, Gateway will be boosting State Pier’s capacity to handle increased cargo flow. As Gateway New London grows and generates an increase in activity, the tax revenue generated for New London will increase commensurately. In other words, we are all aligned to enhance the existing State Pier business and the New London community will participate in that growth.

Finally, under the terms of this agreement, the CPA is guaranteed increased revenue that will expand its ability to fund operations and projects around the state, including here in New London. Through programs like the Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program (SHIPP) the CPA has invested more than $4 million in infrastructure improvement projects for small harbors and waterways in 17 towns and cities throughout Connecticut, including Norwich, the City of Groton, the Town of Groton, Waterford and Stonington.

In New London, there are multiple long-term projects underway through CPA investment. In addition to investing in the first-ever harbor management plan for the city, the CPA is committed to putting New London on the map as a destination of choice for cruise lines traveling throughout the northeast. This past summer, the first cruise ship since 2014 docked in New London to rave passenger reviews. To further this goal, the CPA will invest $750,000 to determine how to best improve the infrastructure at Fort Trumbull’s Pier 7, in order to continue accommodating military vessels and attracting more frequent visits by larger vessels. Once the study is complete, further CPA investment will be needed for construction, to enable New London to have the facilities necessary to welcome this new industry, along with its hundreds of passengers each year.

This is the type of coordination and economic activity CPA was created to foster, and the new State Pier agreement will increase its ability to continue making these short-term investments in local maritime economies.

This week’s announcement was just the beginning. Now that our agreement is established, it’s time to get down to business and bring this vision to life. We look forward to working with our other partners in New London and around the region to maximize the potential of State Pier and expand the long-term economic outlook for all of southeast Connecticut. 

Scott Bates is chairman of the Board of the Connecticut Port Authority and Matthew Satnick is chairman and co-chief executive officer of Enstructure, the financial partner of Gateway New London LLC.

 

 

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