Three pieces of good economic news came in quick succession this past week.
Last week we learned that Fred Wahl Marine Construction was awarded a long-anticipated $3.4 million ConnectOregon grant to use toward its total $8.75 million renovation of the former American Bridge facility on Bolon Island near Reedsport.
Also last Saturday came news of the recent opening of BC Fisheries new $9.6 million seafood processing facility that opened in mid-August in Brookings.
And earlier this week saw the maiden voyage of Sause Brothers’ newest barge, the “Namakani,” marking the barge company’s 50th year serving the Hawaiian islands and 80th anniversary as a company.
The Wahl Marine project is a rejuvenation for our neighbors to the north, who took a hard economic hit when American Bridge ceased operations and eliminated more than 50 high-wage jobs. Reviving the facility for marine construction promises to return at least another 40 jobs to add to the 80 the operation already employs.
In Brookings, the new plant brings new technology to the West Coast, eliminating the need for southern Oregon coast crabbers and shrimpers to ship their catch out for processing. The plant also creates 30 new jobs. The financing package was helped greatly by a $6.3 million loan from the business incubator nonprofit Craft3.
Passersby at the Sause Brothers dock got probably their last look at the Namakani earlier this week before it was pressed into service. The 438-foot long vessel is specially designed for speed and efficiency, affording up to 1,500 ton miles to the gallon while hauling nearly 300,000 tons of cargo a year to the islands.
These are just recent examples of economic resurgence that we championed earlier this summer in South Coast Strong — Special Edition. They are examples of industries that have served the South Coast well in the past and, through advanced technology and innovation, will serve us well into the future.
In short, they are also examples of determination — and resolve. We should be proud of, and embrace these latest developments.