Small Shipyard Grants Are Seed Monies for Future Maritime Growth
When it comes to the American infrastructure, the nation’s small shipyards are leading the way and currently producing some of the most modern and innovative vessels in the world. Many of these shipyards are family owned, with long histories that date back to a time when shipping products actually meant using “ships.” These companies provide quality jobs and support economic growth in cities both large and small, and have been a steadfast foundation in our communities since the founding of the nation.
Many of them will soon benefit from $9.8 million in funding now available through the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Small Shipyard Grant Program. Grants are provided to small shipyards employing less than 1200 workers to foster efficiency, competitive operations, and quality ship construction, repair, and reconfiguration across the United States. The program also seeks to promote projects that would be effective in fostering employee skills and enhancing productivity in communities whose economies are related to or dependent upon the maritime industry.
Unlike the multimillion dollar construction projects that are years in the making; Small Shipyard Grants are smaller, generally less than a million dollars and quick hitting. It’s like a boost of kinetic energy adding to a shipbuilders existing momentum. After all a large forest fire is started by a spark! Grant money is helping to spur economic prosperity and the proof is in the results. Consider the following:
Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp. of Salisbury, MD went from employing only six people in one building in 1981 to over 200 workers in a modern six building campus. Company president Anthony Severn points out that shipyard grants funded “improvements that added to the shipyard’s competitiveness and efficiency,” resulting in more vessel orders and “creating a need for more employees.”
And then there’s Gray Barge of Houma, LA, a family owned tradition since 1946. Commenting on a recently completed dry-dock funded, in part, by a Small Shipyard Grant, Vice President Frank Hernandez noted that the new addition translates into new employees, “we anticipate continued growth and employment opportunities for many years in the future.”
Clearly you can see the Small Shipyard Grant Program is an investment in communities and the people that live there. The impact to small American owned companies is enormous and can make all the difference when it comes to the next hire. The importance of waterway infrastructure to our country’s competitiveness cannot be underestimated either, as trade and exports grow, our shipyards and other waterway systems must be able to keep pace. The Small Shipyard Grants Program is key to maritime success.