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Wind port can be economic driver for region that needs one | Opinion

Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) unveiled an exciting, new plan to build a “wind port” in southern New Jersey.

Once completed, the port would be the nation’s first purpose-built port to manufacture and ship offshore wind-energy components. This would position the state, and specifically its location in Salem County, to become the East Coast hub of the wind power industry, one of the fastest growing in the United States.

The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ), on behalf of the state’s seven southernmost counties, applauds this outstanding economic opportunity for the region.

Not only would the port help New Jersey meet the Murphy administration’s ambitious clean-energy goals, it can also support up to 1,500 permanent, high-quality manufacturing, assembly, and operations jobs. Incredibly, port planners expect to generate up to approximately $500 million of new economic activity every year.

This project comes to South Jersey at a critical time. Salem County’s unemployment rate has risen from a pre-pandemic level of 5.3% to a recent 15.6% percent, with no indication when this upward trend will end. However, Salem County’s employment and economic issues did not start with the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, the county lagged in all measurable economic indicators since the 2008 recession. There has never been a community that needed such a substantial and important economic development project.

The port would be situated on the eastern shore of the Delaware River in Lower Alloways Creek Township, adjacent to PSEG’s Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station. PSEG has historically driven job opportunities as the largest employer in Salem County, so it is no surprise they are a partner in this landmark project. The state is lucky to have a partner in PSEG that is well-versed in project development and able to support such an ambitious undertaking.

The CCSNJ is proud to join a loud chorus of supportive business, labor and elected officials from both sides of the political aisle who understand the need for critical development projects, opportunities for the wind industry to grow in New Jersey and, more importantly, the direct correlation the port can have on economic growth, quality of life and environmental protection.

Christina M. Renna is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey.

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