HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont has announced that a multi-faceted proposal to strengthen Connecticut’s offshore wind industry has been awarded $500,000 in round-one planning funds from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
A coalition led by Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region and supported by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as other stakeholders, put together the initial proposal. The coalition proposed six projects to support this emerging sector, including diversifying and expanding the supply chain, providing waterfront industrial sites for development, building a green business park, leveraging a replicable workforce development model, supporting blue tech research development and bringing innovative new products to production.
“The emerging offshore wind industry has the potential to create many good-paying jobs in Connecticut and drive economic growth in towns along our shoreline,” Gov. Lamont said. “Our administration is working hard to make Connecticut the center hub of the offshore wind industry in New England. I congratulate seCTer, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and all of our partners for working to secure this competitive grant.”
The EDA received 529 applications from regions in all 50 states and five territories, and a total of 60 finalists were selected in round one. The $500,000 round-one funding will allow Connecticut’s coalition to develop a more detailed plan for round-two consideration.
Funding in round two will range from $25 million to $100 million. Applications for round two are due in March 2022.
“Connecticut has a strong competitive advantage with regard to the burgeoning offshore wind industry, and I am thrilled the EDA has invited us to apply for round-two funding,” DECD Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Daum said. “This potential funding would be transformative for New London and Bridgeport and the state’s broader offshore wind ecosystem, creating jobs and diversifying our economy over the long-term.”
Paul Whitescarver, seCTer’s executive director, said coalition members are “all ahead full,” referring to his experience as a captain in the U.S. Navy as he put a submarine underway. “What a great path forward for Connecticut and the southeastern region to generate economic development on a regional basis,” Mr. Whitescarver said. “This will allow a diversification of our blue economy and its industry partners, and build equitable solutions to job growth.”
Taking into consideration the workforce and coastline shared between Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, seCTer’s round-one application envisions future collaborations between the three states on any future round two applications.
Gov. Lamont said that Connecticut looks forward to collaborating across state lines to identify growth opportunities for the regional offshore wind and blue economy sectors.