By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
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NEW HAVEN — Much to the delight of New Haven officials, the state has announced it is focusing on growing maritime industry jobs by upgrading and better marketing its deep-water ports.
The news comes at the same time that Greenleaf Biofuels has received financing on a biodiesel plant to open next year in New Haven’s port.
Greenleaf, owned by Steven Kellogg, is expected to hire 23 employees at 100 Waterfront St. with a groundbreaking this month. He had been working with the Connecticut Community Investment Corp. on the deal and received zoning approval last spring.
On the bigger issue of port development, the state has issued a request for proposals with a focus on an action plan in an industry that already supports more than 30,000 jobs and generates $2.7 billion in state gross domestic product.
“We already know that our maritime industry is a large and critical component of the state’s economy. What’s been missing is a solid understanding of the market in which our ports operate, and a detailed strategy for how the state can best partner with and support the ports within that marketplace,” said Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
She said the study will use market-based analysis to guide public and private infrastructure investments.
The final analysis will include a full inventory of port facilities; detailed profiles of transportation accessibility to the ports; a market analysis, including a list of markets or regions which can be serviced by Connecticut ports; a comprehensive strategy for economic development of the deep-draft ports, including short- and long-term strategic initiatives and action plans; and a plan to provide grants-in-aid for improvements to ports and marinas, including dredging and navigational direction.
John Russo, chairman of the New Haven Port Authority, said he was thrilled they will have an active partner in the state as they work to grow businesses and meet the needs of the industries located there.
“They want to approach this intelligently and rather aggressively,” Russo said of the state’s plans. He said state Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker took a tour of the New Haven Port last week and met many of the workers there.
“They want to improve the quality of the harbors and work together as a team,” Russo said of the state’s approach.
The state’s other deep-water ports are in Bridgeport and New London.
New Haven has several proposals it has supported over the years, including an upgrade of the tanks, pipelines and pumping facilities at the north gate of New Haven Terminal to enable storage and handling of biodiesel and bio-heat fuel.
It also wants a rail spur to New Haven Terminal and rail off-loading in other parts of the port for more efficient delivery and movement of products. A bulkhead along the eastern side of the Quinnipiac River in the north yard of the port off Forbes Avenue is also on the wish list