NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) stopped by Quonset Friday for a tour of the J. Goodison Co. before holding a press conference to celebrate the achievements of the business and announce a new initiative.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Division, or MARAD, last year provided $635,453 in federal funding through the Small Shipyard Grant Program to J. Goodison. The money allowed owner Jack Goodison to purchase a wastewater collection and treatment system for his property. Quonset Development Corp. Managing Director Steve King said the treatment area makes the shipyard more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Goodison and Reed toured the facility, which includes the largest marine travel lift in the Northeast, along with MARAD Administrator Adm. Mark H. Buzby, King and Blount Boats President Marcia Blount. Blount Boats, based in Warren, had also received $508,927 through the grant program.
King said Goodison’s company has seen significant growth since entering its lease on the site two years ago.
“I personally describe [Goodison] as a man of quiet determination, but since approaching me about this facility here on the waterfront several years ago, he has worked with dogged determination to see his dream become a reality,” King said. “The growth of the Goodison Co. here with this new facility and the impressive travel lift behind us is a testament to his determination and to what can be done when the government and the private sector join together for a common purpose.”
Reed brought more good news for the Port of Davisville, which the U.S. Department of Transportation recently selected to be part of a new maritime highway initiative along with the ports of Brooklyn, New York, and Newark, New Jersey. He presented a proclamation to King to make the designation official.
“I want to thank Adm. Buzby and his team for their interest and support of this project, and I look forward to seeing containers moving between Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey in the not-too-distant future,” Reed said.
Buzby said that it “made so much sense” to introduce a maritime highway through Rhode Island because of the state’s abundance of, and proximity to, waterways. He pointed to Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound, as well as the nearby Long Island Sound, as high-traffic areas.
“[It can] take a lot of excess traffic off highways to reduce a lot of the wear and tear on [Interstate] 95, reduce a lot of the truck traffic, a lot of the pollution that occurs, all the emissions. That can now be transferred onto a single tug and barge to move containers back and forth,” Buzby said.
Reed said the grant program that allowed for upgrades at J. Goodison Co. and Blount Boats was nearly “phased out” a few years ago. However, he became a ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development in 2015 and sought to change that. With help from Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, he said, more resources have been allocated to the project.
“All these programs together give our small shipyards the competitive edge they need to make America and keep America in the front of building and maintaining maritime vessels, and also importantly, very importantly, making sure that we have good jobs for people with good skills so they can support their families,” Reed said.
Goodison said his company’s five-year goal of expanding the north yard, part of what he deemed “phase two,” was accelerated with the grant program. He said he felt “truly blessed” to show off J. Goodison Co.’s accomplishments, and thanked King for his confidence in the venture.
“This has not only taken us again to capacity, but is providing over 82 people a place to come and work every day,” Goodison said. “As you can see, as we continue to fill the yard, this would not have been possible without this grant, and on behalf of the Goodison family, and all the employees here today, we promise to demonstrate to the Small Shipyard Grant Program how vital this is and how vital it is to grow small shipyards.”