DARTMOUTH – A regional economy based in the life and marine sciences, alternative energy and advanced manufacturing is poised for growth, but now “we need to close some deals,” a top state economic development official said Friday at a breakfast hosted by the SouthCoast Development Partnership.
The breakfast focused on two major state investments – New Bedford’s offshore wind port terminal and Fall River’s BioPark – which require business tenants in order to bring jobs to SouthCoast.
“The next step in our trajectory is really to go out and get some companies,” said Greg Bialecki, the secretary of the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development. “I think the time is right. Even though we’re still getting over the downtown, we’re seeing more and more companies with an interest in expanding and they’re looking for opportunities.”
The BioPark, which does not yet have a commercial tenant, is in a position over the next four years to seize on business from pharmaceutical companies feeling pressure from investors to outsource their research and development processes, said Paul Marshall, senior vice president of operations for Amylin Pharmaceuticals.
The park, built to be versatile, will also benefit from its ties to UMass Dartmouth and its location in a region that is already a world leader when it comes to bioprocessing, he said.
“To think small about this facility is thinking wrong,” said Marshall, whose father managed Carter’s clothing for 42 years and who graduated from UMass Dartmouth. “I really believe this facility can go far in meeting the needs of the industry, especially with the way shareholders are pressuring companies today to use their money.
“You have a tiger by the tail in opening up this center.”
Cape Wind President Jim Gordon, who has been trying to build the first offshore wind farm in North America for 12 years, said he hoped to start his project in earnest in the next year to take advantage of a federal tax credit.
Cape Wind, now fully permitted and in the procurement stage, is currently tied up in two lawsuits, which are in the appeals stage, Gordon said.
“Somebody should ask why this is being delayed after this has gone through all this scrutiny,” he said. “If we can break through this logjam, Massachusetts will be the North American leader in offshore wind.”
About 140 people attended the breakfast, which was held at UMass Dartmouth and which officials said repeatedly is crucial to the region’s economic progress. “We’re not going to go anywhere as a region unless we have a really solid partnership with the university. … UMass and BCC have to be at the center of those efforts,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.
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