Letter to the Editor: Let’s create a cleaner, stronger Outer Banks economy
Published 6:23 am Monday, May 4, 2020
To the Editor,
We are all experiencing challenges like no other time in our community. As Divisional Vice Chair, Economic Sustainability for the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce and owner of Earth Resources and Dock of the Bay, I am inspired at how our residents and business owners have come together to support one another during this crisis.
The Outer Banks Chamber is working every day to make sure our businesses have the latest resources to help keep our businesses’ doors open or to help them plan how soon they can reopen, or even in some cases, hire new workers. And while the chamber is working on supporting our business community today, we also are considering how to best support our economy tomorrow.
At our recent “Keep It Clean” Outer Banks Chamber Economic Summit, we discussed how clean energy, specifically offshore wind, is an exciting opportunity for economic growth for the Outer Banks area.
Each day, we move closer to welcoming this billion dollar industry to our area and those companies who will support the offshore wind industry. As the chamber strives to encourage economic resiliency, offshore wind is perhaps is one of the greatest opportunities that our community will have while protecting our beautiful environment at the same time.
Avangrid Renewables Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind project, proposed to be more than 27 miles off the coast of Corolla, will bring hundreds of construction jobs as well as permanent jobs following construction. But why the Outer Banks? As it turns out, our area of the North Carolina coast produces faster and steadier winds, more so than anywhere else on the east coast.
This project as well as offshore wind development in Virginia will also bring millions of dollars in ecological and fishing tourism already evident from development off of Rhode Island, benefiting our entire tourism-related businesses.
Perhaps the greatest economic potential of offshore wind rests with the manufacturing of the 8,000 different components required to build a wind turbine. North Carolina is now beginning to assist existing manufacturers to add to their product line while at the same time beginning to recruit international offshore wind companies to move their operations to the northeastern area of the state, close to project development areas.
The economic sustainability of our area is critical, especially now as we begin to rebuild our economy. Clean energy is an opportunity to help us achieve that for our region. This Reed Markham quote comes to mind, “Great leaders are prepared for the winds of change.”
The Chamber is fortunate to have the leadership of our President and CEO Karen Brown and the Chair-Elect of the Board Richard Hess of Sun Realty, NC Rep. Bobby Hanig, NC Sen. Bob Steinburg, and the elected officials in Dare and Currituck Counties as we navigate these clean energy opportunities.
As we support one another during this crisis today, the Outer Banks Chamber together with the Currituck Chamber and Currituck Economic Development, look forward to a stronger, more sustainable Outer Banks economy tomorrow.
Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Divisional Vice Chair – Economic Sustainability