Wicomico County Leaders Offer Economic Support for Offshore Wind - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Leaders Offer Economic Support for Offshore Wind Farm Project

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SALISBURY, Md. - Developers of the offshore wind farm, coming soon off the coast of the Maryland and Delaware line, are looking local to support their project. Wicomico County says it wants a piece of the action. 

A law passed by Maryland's General Assembly requires that some of this project use Maryland-based companies for the manufacturing, building and eventual upkeep of the farm. The leading company, Orsted, partnered with General Electric. Now, they're looking for communities across the state that can supply what they need for their project, called the Skipjack Wind Farm. 

"It's definitely an opportunity to grab because it's here right now and if we're not on the train, we're going to be running after it," Katarina Ennerfelt, president of Arcon, said.

Representatives from both groups met with city, county and business leaders Thursday at the Greater Salisbury Committee to hear how Wicomico can support their project.

"It's not always you get General Electric in town," Dave Ryan, executive director of Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development, said. "It's not always you have on the precipice of a new industry, so we were viewing this as a new chance for new jobs and new innovation."

Economic leaders believe Wicomico County already has the infrastructure and workforce.

"Wicomico County is very unique because we not only have the workforce development programs, we have the universities," Wicomico County Council President John Cannon said. "We also have the infrastructure, the airport, the highways, we have the waterways. So there's so many different factions in Wicomico County that benefit industries such as this. I think they recognize that fact and that's a huge plus for us."

Ryan added: "More importantly than all that, we have a can do spirit. You see the collaboration in the room. We can work together to bring this industry here."

It's a potential collaboration that county leaders desire.

"Anytime you can bring a new industry to Wicomico County, that's a hugely positive impact," Cannon said. "And, I think this is going to be in the hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars as far as what it could benefit Wicomico County and our community as a whole."

But they also said it's about keeping this industry in Wicomico County, as offshore wind projects grow across the Eastern Seaboard.

"This is not going to just happen in Maryland. This will be all the way up and down the East Coast. We're talking a lot of developments that's coming and we have an opportunity for Maryland to be first," Ennerfelt said.

The GE team will now do their own outreach to find out what businesses in Wicomico County can offer. 

The Skipjack Wind Farm is one of two approved projects off the coast of Delmarva. It will be more than 19 miles off the Delaware, Maryland line. According to the company, construction is slated to start as early as 2021, with the wind farm operational by 2022. Orsted estimates the farm will be able to generate enough electricity to power 35,000 homes on Maryland's Eastern Shore. 

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