New Bedford Ocean Cluster September 2022 Newsletter

New Bedford Ocean Cluster September 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the first New Bedford Ocean Cluster monthly newsletter!

Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Jennifer Downing, and this year the Board of Directors invited me to become the first Executive Director of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster. It is an honor and privilege to guide this organization and help advance greater New Bedford’s ocean economy. 

As part of our mission to bring together all the maritime interests in and around the Port of New Bedford, and throughout the Massachusetts region, the New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC) will be sharing news of interest, happenings of note, and member information each month going forward. 

If you’re new to the Ocean Cluster concept, here’s a quick refresher:

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster is a nonprofit organization formed to align the maritime interests of the city and region under one umbrella organization. The four pillars of the NBOC are Commercial Fishing and Seafood Processing; Aquaculture; Offshore Renewable Energy; and Innovation and Technology

In addition to the four pillars of the NBOC, I’d like to acknowledge a fifth: People. As in you – NBOC partners, supporters and followers. 

This unique ecosystem of marine businesses and workforce distinguishes our region and is the foundation of its economy and culture. It includes our economic development agencies working to advance policies and programs to strengthen our blue economy, and the entrepreneurs and academic institutions pushing the boundaries of marine innovation into the future. 

The NBOC is something we are all very much building together. Our foundation is the historic Port of New Bedford. At this place, we are building on centuries of maritime trade and industry in an entirely new way, but based upon lasting values of collaboration and cooperation.

The NBOC is patterned after successful ocean clusters around the world. It directly traces its lineage to the game-changing Iceland Ocean Cluster, which pioneered the model.

In fact, several years ago the NBOC and Iceland Ocean Cluster established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote network building and collaboration among maritime businesses and entrepreneurs,

In  June, the NBOC signed a second MOU with the Belgium Blue Cluster signaling our intention to collaborate and share best practices. 

These important partnerships serve to increase New Bedford’s  competitiveness and global reach. 

Working together into the future, whether around the corner or around the globe, the NBOC seeks to pursue the strategies that will ensure the Port of New Bedford remains the highest value fishery in the nation. It’s managed that astounding achievement for 21 consecutive years – and that fact both informs and defines our work. 

The NBOC is also dedicated to seizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the birth of the offshore wind industry represents for New Bedford, Massachusetts and the nation. Already, the country’s first commercial-scale wind farm is being built utilizing the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, soon to be joined by New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal. We aspire to make the NBOC a powerful tool to attract ever-increasing investment in offshore wind, creating jobs and opportunities in this community for decades to come. 

Aquaculture is a burgeoning field of marine harvesting that has yet to find strong purchase in our waters, but holds immense promise that needs to be explored. And, as we all know, technological innovation has transformed our lives and economy in fundamental ways. Embracing blue technology isn’t an option – it’s critical to riding the waves of tomorrow. 

Today, I’m thrilled to invite you to the very first annual meeting of the NBOC. It will take place on Wednesday, October 12 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  It’s an occasion to bring us all together and chart a course for the NBOC we are building. Bring your questions, ideas, and passion for this unique idea we are turning into reality at the fabled Port of New Bedford.

Until we meet, below you’ll find recent news of interest, curated events, and other information of importance to our shared New Bedford Ocean Cluster. 

Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director


The New Bedford Ocean Cluster maintains an ongoing social media presence on Facebook and LInkedIn. You can “Like” and “Follow” each page to receive news updates throughout the month between newsletters. #NBOC #newbedfordoceancluster


The New Bedford Ocean Cluster, in partnership with Vineyard Wind, has launched Act Local. It’s a program designed to maximize the positive economic impacts of the Vineyard Wind 1 project in the greater New Bedford region by encouraging local business participation in the offshore wind industry. The program is part of Vineyard Wind’s commitment to Look Local First in support of its Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm. Learn more at this link on the NBOC website.


A NEW DIRECTOR at the NEW BEDFORD PORT AUTHORITY: Gordon Carr, former Deputy Director of Real Estate Strategy and Policy at the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), has been chosen as the next Executive Director of the New Bedford Port Authority (NBPA). Carr was selected by the Port Authority Commission from among 39 applicants. Carr is expected to take over in late September. Read the City of New Bedford announcement here

BLUE ECONOMY RESEARCH: UMass Dartmouth recently opened its newest state-of-the-art research, learning and product development laboratory in the School for Marine Science & Technology in New Bedford. The Biodegradability Laboratory supports the development of biodegradable and ocean-safe plastics and other materials by accelerating their path to market with a focus on increasing sustainability. Find out more about it here

NEW FUNDING FOR WATERFRONT RAIL: New Bedford’s Ice Cube Maritime cold storage facility helps to process and store seafood products.”This is a site where because they have rail access they will be able to move their product far more quickly, far more efficiently, far more cost effectively and in the meantime, take trucks off the road,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. WJAR News 10 report here

NOW ONLINE: The Doers Lab is a new initiative at The Communal Space in the City of New Bedford that seeks to connect youth to opportunities for equitable employment in the offshore wind industry in the city and region. Learn all about them and what they do at this link: The Doers Lab

SAFETY FIRST: At a 131-year-old maritime academy along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts, people who will build the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm are learning the skills to stay safe while working around turbines at sea. Boston 25 News has the story here

THE PRINCE OF TIDES: A New Bedford-based company is seeking to harness tidal energy. Its founder and director John Miller is an engineer who’s been studying ocean energy “longer than anyone,” noted John Bullard, president of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster Board of Directors. Full story here.


Sun. Oct. 2 // BUZZARDS BAY WATERSHED RIDE – Need some time off? Enjoy the scenic landscapes of Southeastern Massachusetts in and around New Bedford while supporting the protection of watershed lands and clean water on the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride. Choose your own adventure from the 100-mile, 75-mile, or 35-mile overlapping cycling routes that ride past coastal farmlands, windswept beaches, cranberry bogs, and scenic harbors between Rhode Island and Cape Cod. Register and choose your ride here. 

Wed. Oct. 12 // JOIN THE NEW BEDFORD OCEAN CLUSTER for its first Annual Meeting at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA. The program will include an update on our progress, the election of Officers and Directors, a keynote speaker, and reception with light hors d’oeuvres and spirits. RSVP to this free event by October 6 via THIS LINK

Questions? Email Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director (

Thurs. Oct 6 // The Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) public comment meeting – As part of its effort to seek out public comment regarding the proposed Revolution Wind project, BOEM will hold a meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. at Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway Boulevard, in New Bedford, MA. The input received via this process will inform preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). More information can be found here

Thurs. Oct. 13 // THE NEW BEDFORD PORT AUTHORITY monthly meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. The NBPA office is located at 123 MacArthur. Drive, New Bedford. 

Tues. Oct. 18 & Wed. Oct. 19 // The American Clean Power Association (ACP) WINDPOWER 2022 Conference & Exhibition takes place in Providence, RI at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Find out more at this link, including exhibit, sponsor and agenda information. 

Wed. Oct. 19 //  The New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) will hold its 2022 Annual Meeting from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Harbor View Gallery at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Light refreshments and networking are on the agenda, along with a look at NBEDC initiatives and a keynote address by Frank Barrows, Senior Advisor for Commemorations  and Anniversaries, National Park Service. RSVP at this link, and follow NBEDC on Facebook for updates.

Belgian Economic Mission Visits New Bedford and Celebrates Leadership in Offshore Wind

Belgian Economic Mission Visits New Bedford and Celebrates Leadership in Offshore Wind

Belgian Economic Mission Visits New Bedford and Celebrates Leadership in Offshore Wind

New Bedford, Massachusetts – A delegation of Belgian companies visited New Bedford on June 10, 2022 to explore opportunities for partnership and investment in the region’s growing offshore wind market. The delegation is the third foreign trade mission to visit New Bedford this year with an interest in forging relationships with local stakeholders and learning about the City’s marketplace assets and advantages in offshore wind.

The delegation’s visit was hosted by the New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC) and part of a larger Belgian Economic Mission to the U.S., organized by Flanders Investment & Trade and the Consulate General of Belgium.

“We have fostered ties with European industry leaders for nearly a decade, and those connections now are coming to fruition,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “We look forward to deepening partnerships with seasoned offshore wind companies from mature industries across northern Europe, who recognize the opportunity to grow their businesses in the Port of New Bedford.”

The NBOC’s mission is to leverage New Bedford’s coastal position, marine knowledge base, and landside capacity to drive employment and wealth creation for New Bedford residents. Working collaboratively with a range of private sector, public sector, and academic partners, the NBOC will work to establish New Bedford as the leading ocean economy on the East Coast through a strategic focus on four interrelated industry pillars: aquaculture, commercial fishing and processing, offshore renewable energy, and innovation & technology.

“We are excited to welcome the Belgian delegation to New Bedford to experience all that the city has to offer the burgeoning offshore wind industry,” said Jennifer Downing, Executive Director of the NBOC. “New Bedford has been at the forefront of developing offshore wind in the U.S., much like Belgium has been in Europe, for over a decade. Our regions can both experience economic benefit from each other’s leadership in this industry.”

“The port of New Bedford is destined to become one of the main gateways in the development of offshore wind projects in the Northeast. The newly formed New Bedford Ocean Cluster brings together key stakeholders and is at the heart of the local ecosystem. It was important for us to bring our Belgian companies to New Bedford, to plug into that ecosystem, and to prepare them for the opportunities,” said Ralph Moreau, Science & Technology Counselor for the Americas at Flanders Investment & Trade.

Delegates spent the afternoon at the Whaling Museum networking and hearing presentations by Mayor Jon Mitchell, Jennifer Downing, NBOC Executive Director; and Bill White, Avangrid Renewables’ President and CEO, Offshore. A panel discussion with representatives from Context Labs and Spherical Analytics, MassCEC, Bristol Community College, and the MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board explored state and local issues and opportunities related to offshore wind workforce development and training.

“As part of the IBERDROLA group, AVANGRID is leading the way in the U.S. market by leveraging our global experience, expertise, and supply chain network to drive new investment and job creation in communities like New Bedford,” said Bill White, Avangrid Renewables’ President & CEO, Offshore. “By working with the City of New Bedford, the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, and our partners from Belgium and Flanders, we’re building a new platform for economic growth in Massachusetts’ South Coast region while advancing our nation-leading portfolio of offshore wind projects.”

MOU Signals Future Collaboration

On the evening of June 9th, the NBOC and local partners including the New Bedford Economic Development Council, Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth, and others, joined the Belgian Economic Trade Mission at the Greentown Labs in Somerville to celebrate leadership in offshore wind development in Massachusetts. The event brought together state and local government, developers, supply chain leaders, and key organizations advancing the industry across the state.

In front of Gov. Charlie Baker, Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, and Flanders Minister-President Jan Jambon, the NBOC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Belgium Blue Cluster to formally express both parties’ intent to explore collaboration, and foster innovation and international trade.

The Belgian Blue Cluster is a non-profit organization created in 2017 by private companies with the aim of developing and valorising innovative and sustainable economic activities related to seas and oceans. The Blue Cluster has 192 industrial members and 17 publicly funded partners. Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade represented The Blue Cluster at Thursday’s event on behalf of its CEO, Marc Nuytemans.

Nuytemans said the Blue Cluster is excited to be linked to the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, adding: “The experience of our Belgian pioneers combined with the potential of NBOC will create powerful and elegant opportunities in the Blue Economy both in Belgium and in the USA.”

“The NBOC is thrilled to work more closely with the Blue Cluster of Belgium to explore collaborative opportunities to strengthen ocean innovation and economic growth in our respective regions. By sharing expertise, innovating together, and joining forces to create scale, our regions can increase their competitiveness and at the same time contribute to the major energy transition the world is facing.” Downing said.

Thursday’s program also included a keynote speech by Klaus Moeller, CEO of Vineyard Wind. Vineyard Wind is developing the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind 1, just 30 miles off the coast of New Bedford. Vineyard Wind has established operations in New Bedford and will be using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as the primary staging and deployment base for construction and installation of the 800-MW project.

Bill White, CEO of Avangrid Renewables, delivered the event’s closing remarks. Avangrid has committed to building an Offshore Wind Control Center in New Bedford, a state-of-the-art facility that will provide operations and control support for its 1,232-MW Commonwealth Wind project.

Offshore Wind Community Outreach Forum

Offshore Wind Community Outreach Forum

Offshore Wind Community Outreach Forum

The New Bedford Ocean Cluster invites you to join us!

Join us to explore how your company can work in the rapidly growing offshore wind industry through the Act Local Program and to meet industry peers.

June 29th, 2022 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Join us to explore how your company can work in the rapidly growing offshore wind industry through the Act Local Program and to meet industry peers.

The event will include networking and remarks from the NBOC, Vineyard Wind and local business leaders. 

In partnership with:

Jennifer Downing Named First Executive Director of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster

Jennifer Downing Named First Executive Director of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster

Jennifer Downing Named First Executive Director of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster

(New Bedford, MA) The Board of Directors of the newly established New Bedford Ocean Cluster (NBOC) is pleased to announce that Jennifer Downing of Acushnet will lead the organization as its first executive director. She brings over 20 years of nonprofit experience in the areas of local economic development, environmental sustainability, and leadership development to the NBOC.

The NBOC’s mission is to leverage New Bedford’s coastal position, marine knowledge base, and landside capacity to drive employment and wealth creation for New Bedford residents. Working collaboratively with a range of private sector, public sector, and academic partners, the NBOC will work to establish New Bedford as the leading ocean economy on the East Coast through a strategic focus on four interrelated industry pillars: commercial fishing & processing, aquaculture, offshore renewable energy, and innovation & technology.

“The entire NBOC Board is excited to have Jen lead our team,” John Bullard, President of the NBOC Board of Directors said recently announcing her appointment. “Because of her experience, her leadership skills and her passion for New Bedford she is already off to a very fast start mobilizing resources and gathering people together to seize the opportunity to create jobs around the possibilities that are before us in the blue economy. To be successful we need to bring a lot of people together, discover common objectives, work out our differences and move forward with a goal of increasing economic opportunities for all. Jen has the ability to help us do that.”

In her position, Downing will be responsible for setting up the operational needs of the NBOC, working with local maritime stakeholders to define and advance economic development priorities, and managing cluster activity. A primary focus of the NBOC will be to foster a maritime business network that can serve as both a convener and clearinghouse for business-to-business interaction and commercial collaboration. The goal is to attract investment to New Bedford and its Port, support the formation and growth of ocean economy businesses, and develop strategies to create more value from our ocean resources including fish, aquaculture, and wind.

“Jen is the ideal person to lead the New Bedford Ocean Cluster as it seeks to capitalize on the maritime opportunities that lie ahead for New Bedford. Her track record of facilitating teamwork, coupled with her understanding of New Bedford’s competitive advantages, will put the Ocean Cluster in a strong position to succeed,” Mayor Jon Mitchell, said.

In late 2021, the NBOC launched the Act Local program in partnership with Vineyard Wind and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to connect Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 companies with local businesses interested and able to participate in the offshore wind industry supply chain. The Act Local Program is an innovative and streamlined approach to matchmaking and is the first of its kind in the U.S. offshore wind industry. The program is part of Vineyard Wind’s commitment to Look Local First in support of its Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm.

“The NBOC is going to play a critical role in making sure that local businesses become part of the fabric of the growing offshore wind industry,” said Vineyard Wind’s Manager of Workforce & Supply Chain Development, Jennifer Cullen. “With her impressive experience, Jennifer is ideally positioned to lead the organization and ensure that it succeeds in its mission.”

Most recently, Downing served as the vice president of community engagement at the Buzzards Bay Coalition where she oversaw the organization’s fundraising, marketing & communications, and public engagement programs and events. Prior to that, she served as the executive director of Leadership Southcoast (LSC). At LSC, Downing introduced new curriculum and formats that strengthened the program, expanded, and diversified enrollment, and launched the organization’s first alumni engagement strategy.

Downing spent more than a decade in philanthropy working at the Garfield Foundation, a private foundation that awarded more than $2 million nationally to nonprofits addressing complex social and environmental problems through collaborative network approaches. She was responsible for both managing the operations of the foundation and serving as program officer for a place-based grant portfolio supporting economic and community revitalization projects in Greater New Bedford.

That experience sparked Downing’s interest in advancing collaborative leadership and cross-sector collaborative processes and prompted her to focus her graduate studies on the subject. In 2018, she received the Brian Webb Award for Outstanding Master of Arts Thesis by Union Institute & University for her paper, Action Learning to Develop Collaborative Capacity for Social Change.

“I’m really excited about joining the New Bedford Ocean Cluster,” Downing said. “A consistent thread running through my career has been a deep interest in advancing collaborative, network approaches locally to strengthen and revitalize our community. The ocean cluster ideology embodies this approach, and it is an honor to have the opportunity to leverage my background and skills to develop and lead such a model in New Bedford to advance its ocean economy.”

In 2020, Downing was honored as a recipient of the John S. Brayton Community Service Award by the One South Coast Chamber of Commerce. She is currently the Chair of the Acushnet School Committee and has served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees, such as the United Way of Greater New Bedford Board of Directors, the New Bedford Regeneration Committee, the SouthCoast Neighbors United Board of Directors, the Civic & Political Leadership Working Group for the Women’s Fund’s Task Force on Pathways for Women to a Living Wage, and the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts’ Building Diverse Boards and Commissions Working Group.

She holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and an MA in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute & University. She is a proud 2009 graduate of Leadership SouthCoast and 2012 PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity & Sustainability) Fellow with The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.