NEW BEDFORD – City leaders touted the promise of the offshore wind industry for New Bedford at a job fair Friday, even as they warned that opportunities remain years away.
“This is going to take a little bit of time,” Derek Santos, the New Bedford Economic Development Council director of operations, said at a jobs forum Friday.
“The key word he said was patience,” said John “Buddy” Andrade of the Old Bedford Village Economic Development Corp., which hosted the forum.
The city’s new $100 million South Terminal development is supposed to position the city as a hub of the offshore wind industry.
Construction of the 28.5-acre port project, scheduled to start in the spring, is expected to generate between 200 and 300 jobs.
In the long term, officials say the terminal could employ about 700 people directly and thousands more in associated industries.
“This is a brand-new industry, not just for New Bedford or the commonwealth, but for the country, and job opportunities are not going to appear overnight,” said New Bedford Economic Development Council Executive Director Matthew Morrissey.
The city is studying places where the wind industry is already established and working to build training programs so that workers here will be able to meet the skill requirements of those companies, Morrissey said.
Residents said Friday they believed the port would deliver on its promise.
“I understand it’s going to take some time,” said Shane Pina, 34, of New Bedford, one of about 20 people, mostly men, who attended Friday’s jobs forum. “But I think it will be here. We need it.”