Lawmakers announce third largest state maritime grant for FraserSuperior’s working waterfront got a $3.7 million boost Monday when state lawmakers announce the state’s third largest grant through the Harbor Assistance program.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
By Shelley Nelson
Superior’s working waterfront got a $3.7 million boost Monday when state lawmakers announce the state’s third largest grant through the Harbor Assistance program.
State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and Rep. Nick Milroy, D-Superior, made the announcement this morning at Fraser Shipyards, which benefits from the grant.
Fraser Shipyards can proceed with plans to replace about 850 feet of sheet pile in Howard’s Pocket on the waterfront in North End and other upgrades at the nearly 120-year-old shipbuilding facility.
The company foots the bill for the remaining $750,000 cost of the project, which will position the last American-owned shipbuilding facility on the Great Lakes to benefit from the federal stimulus package in its efforts to modernize.
“Because of the $3.7 million grant, the city will apply for a Maritime Administration competitive grant under the federal stimulus proposal for a $10 million grant to complete a three-phase expansion at this facility to take place,” Jauch said. “It’s really a significant investment in a valued member of the Superior community.”
Jauch commended shipyard officials for having the foresight and willingness to pursue the initial $4.4 million project during these difficult economic times.
“The timing of this grant is going to stimulate economic growth and efforts to revitalize our economy,” he said. He said the 25-45 employees that will work on the project over the next year might have been out of work without the grant.
“These dollars are going to provide job for construction workers,” Milroy said. “They’re going to stimulate steel production and they’re going to greatly improve the shipyard’s ability to modernize this facility. Not only are we going to have jobs today, but this is going to allow Fraser to continue with jobs tomorrow, especially in the permanent skill trades that pay the good wages in the Northland here.”
Jim Korthals, president and chief operating officer of Fraser Shipyards, said the state grant will allow the company to put in 850 feet of sheet pile along Howard’s Pocket, portions of which are rip-rapped or contain wooden cribs with rock in them. The project includes dredging and creating a wall for safe access shipyard workers.
If the company is then successful in garnering federal money, phase II and three of the modernization project would include about another 900 feet of sheet piling in an area of Howard’s Pocket, which has never been sheet-piled, Korthals said. The project would include electrical, water and fire services to combat vessel fires, he said.
“What it would do is make us more competitive,” Korthals said. “Our nearest competitor is now owned by the Italians; it’s based in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. What we would like to be able to do is some of the work they are currently doing, which this would help us do.”
While there were two applications to the program approved by the city council last summer, this is the only one approved so far, Milroy said.
“We really wanted to make sure that this project got rolling so it would qualify for the federal stimulus funds,” Milroy said. “Without that (state) funding, it wouldn’t even qualify for any federal stimulus funds. So hopefully this will transform into a $10 million project.”