Connecticut leaders turn to seCTer to strengthen role in offshore wind industry  

Connecticut leaders turned to seCTer when it came time to act on recommendations from   Connecticut’s Offshore Wind Strategic Roadmap.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last October creation of the Connecticut Wind Collaborative as the body that would put the Roadmap strategies and goals into action. His Department of Economic and Community Development tasked seCTer with serving as an incubator for this non-profit entity, providing fiduciary and administrative support through the early stages.

The initial Board of Directors was established in January under the leadership of Chairman Paul Lavoie, the state’s Chief Manufacturing Officer, and included seCTer Executive Director Paul Whitescarver. In April, the Board expanded from the original five members to 15, including representatives from academia, business, and leaders in the offshore wind industry nationally and internationally.

Lamont’s vision is for the Connecticut Wind Collaborative to create a regional industry cluster based on the existing skilled maritime and high-tech workforce. The Collaborative’s work will focus on four strategic pillars identified in the Offshore Wind Strategic Roadmap: infrastructure and real estate, supply chain, workforce, and research and development.   

Initial efforts are focused on collaboration with Rhode Island, which, like Connecticut, is already well established in the offshore wind sector. Rhode Island is home to the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Additionally, Ocean State workers   produce advanced foundation components for offshore wind turbines and some of the first U.S.-built vessels for operations and maintenance crews. The Community College of Rhode Island will soon be home to a Global Wind Organization training certificate program providing workers with skills in working at heights, sea survival, first aid, fire awareness and more.

Rhode Island is also home to WindWinRI, an offshore wind energy career pathway training  program for students and adults. WindWinRI was established through the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of former Executive Director Kristin Urbach, who is now the first Executive Director of the CT Wind Collaborative. North Kingstown shares a distinction with New London in that both are considered hubs for the offshore wind industry in the Northeast, with New London’s State Pier providing the premier marshaling and assembly facility for offshore wind turbines

The groundwork for this two-state collaboration is based on the decades of experience that business leaders and tradesmen have in working together to manufacture submarines for the U.S. Navy.

The combination of this two-state, skilled maritime workforce and infrastructure improvements to rebuild State Pier provides a solid foundation for a larger collaborative in New England.

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