New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell addressed over five-hundred constituents in his State of the City speech on Thursday proclaiming that his city will not fall for the same economic mistakes it made in the past.
Mayor Mitchell says New Bedford “is on a roll” with a significant drop in unemployment, record high bond ratings, and a flourishing $11 billion a year port industry.
“Our greatest competitive advantage,” Mitchell says. “lies in our connection to the water.”
But Mitchell says New Bedford has made mistakes by putting all of its hopes on one industry, only to see it disappear citing the city’s former global dominance in whaling and cotton textile manufacturing.
“ I’m here to tell you today that we in New Bedford has now learned its lesson,” Mitchell says. “Perhaps for the first time in our city’s history, we now have in our sights the opportunity to diversify our economic base in a major way.”
The mayor pointed to the city’s investment in the offshore wind industry which he says will be the largest private-sector project in Massachusetts history. “Bigger than the state’s casinos, bigger than the skyscrapers in Boston, bigger than even the Gillette stadium,” Mitchell says. “And it’ll be the first of many similar projects not in just the next few years but in the decades to come.”
The so-called “Vineyard Wind project” -- a joint venture by two European renewable energy companies -- is scheduled to begin late next year.
This week, federal energy officials signed a memorandum of understanding with New England commercial fisherman who are concerned that large-scale offshore wind farms will adversely impact the fisheries they rely on.