by Gina Hamilton
Coastal Journal staff
MADRID, SPAIN -- Mainers are participating in a renewable energy trade mission in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway this week. The trip will wrap up on Saturday, after a wind energy trade show, a visit to a turbine manufacturing facility, several networking receptions, and matchmaking sessions with potential business partners.
The trip was organized by the Maine International Trade Center, more than half of whose annual budget is provided by the State of Maine. It was formed through a merger of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s international trade office, and two private nonprofits, the Maine World Trade Association and Training Export Partnership. Most of MITC’s mission involves serving as an information resource to businesses in Maine.
One of the companies hoping to come away with a new revenue stream is Bath’s BIW. Lisa Read, project manager of industrial products and services, said that she hopes that in addition to its shipbuilding mission, the company might be able to find some related manufacturing opportunities in renewable energy, either in the building of offshore wind platforms, or the building of vessels to serve those platforms. “Any large steel structure off the coast of Maine is a natural fit for us,” she said. “That’s our specialty.”
Maine is currently doing site research on an offshore wind facility, most likely to be located off the midcoast or Downeast.
About two dozen business and industry representatives took part in this year’s gubernatorial trade mission. It is the first time MITC has participated in a trade mission that has focused on an industry, rather than a geographical region. Past delegations have targeted Canada, Japan and South Korea, for instance. Last year’s mission to Canada generated interest in renewable energy in Maine businesses, however, so this year’s trade mission determined to help Maine businesses reach out to that industry in Europe.
In addition to actual commerce, MITC also tries to attract industry to Maine universities for research projects, thereby helping the universities with needed dollars. Students are also attracted to Maine universities and colleges through these research centers.
The delegation includes Governor John Baldacci and representatives from Bangor Hydro, BIW, Cianbro, James W. Sewall Co., Larkin Enterprises, Maine Composites Alliance, Maine Public Utilities Commission, Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, Normon, Hanson and DeTroy, LLC., Northern Maine Community COllege, Pierce Atwood, Reed & Reed, Sprague Energy Corporation, Sullivan & Merritt, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, in addition to MITC representatives.