GUEST OPINION: A new era is dawning in SouthCoast

The hub cities of New Bedford and Fall River are increasingly well positioned to serve as pioneering centers for cutting-edge industries that hold the promise of future economic growth. With two substantial economic development initiatives already underway, the SouthCoast is looking ahead, ready to grab onto the golden ring of economic prosperity that has too often eluded our grasp.
Things are different today. Our future has never looked better. Not since the heyday of New Bedford’s preeminence in whaling and Fall River’s leadership in textiles has the SouthCoast been more favorably positioned to become a leader in industries of the future. We are seeing significant investments in our region by public and private partners whose vision encompasses innovative, emerging fields that are ready to take off and energize our economy.
Two exciting cases in point speak to a SouthCoast that is on the brink of redefining its image and embracing a new reality.
The Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is currently in the second phase of construction in the SouthCoast Life Science & Technology Park at Fall River. This unique, first-of-its-kind biomanufacturing facility will spur the growth of the biomanufacturing industry within the Massachusetts life science supercluster and place the region at the forefront of new breakthroughs in life-saving medical therapies. In time, the Life Science & Technology Park promises to bring 8,000 new jobs and an investment of approximately $280 million in the city of Fall River.
An equally transformative project is the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the first facility of its kind in North America designed to support the assembly and construction of offshore wind projects. The development of the offshore wind industry will create a significant new industry for Massachusetts and the nation. In addition, the Marine Commerce Terminal has been engineered to provide the Port of New Bedford with new shipping and cargo capacity rivaling the highest capacity ports in the world.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state’s lead agency supporting the clean energy cluster, estimates that construction of the Terminal will expand business output by more than $44 million and create 170 to 200 jobs during each year of the construction of the Terminal; 170 direct and indirect permanent jobs in Massachusetts associated with Terminal operations; and 850 direct and indirect jobs per year in Massachusetts associated with the installation of an offshore wind project.
The SouthCoast journey to economic renewal is just beginning, and we must be realistic about the time and patience it may take to feel the benefits in our own lives. But we have turned the corner and the destination is within sight. To everything there is a season. Now is the season to believe. Let’s keep our focus on a bright future rich with new possibilities.
Nicholas Christ is president and CEO of Fall River-based BayCoast Bank and Peter Kavanaugh is president of Kavanaugh-Brownell Boat Stands, LLC. They are co-chairs of the SouthCoast Development Partnership.
By Nicholas Christ and Peter Kavanaugh
SouthCoast Development Partnership
Posted Jun 05, 2013 @ 06:33 PM
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