U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) announced $1.1 million in federal funding along the Bayonne waterfront this morning, which will finance upgrades to the city’s dry dock.
Menendez first talked about the significance of the federal funding, which he secured from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration’s Small Shipyard Grant program.
“This funding is going to help modernize the site’s dry dock equipment, which is critical because Bayonne is one of a few facilities on the East Coast that can serve large ocean-going vessels,” he began.
” … Together, all of these pieces add up to more jobs and a stronger, more competitive New Jersey economy. Jobs here at Bayonne Dry Dock are good-paying, highly-skilled jobs, the kinds of jobs that allow workers to support their families, build a good life and give their kids a brighter future.”
Currently, the Dry Dock employs 280 full-time workers, and according to a press release from Menendez’s office, approximately 90 percent of the workforce are minority workers who live in the surrounding area.
The Bayonne Dry Dock, the second largest dry dock in the Northeast, second only to Norfolk, Virginia, is a full-service shipyard offering dry docking and repair services for a variety of vessels ranging from tugboats to U.S. Navy ships.
We asked the senior senator how competitive it was to secure the funding for the project.
“We have been asking to increase this [shipyard grant program] to $35 million. Unfortunately, the Senate version has only $10 million and the House version only $3 million,” Menendez explained.
“But to give you a sense of the competition, the Maritime Administration received 93 applications asking for $127 million for a program that has only $10 million. So, that’s the nature of the competition.”
After the press conference concluded, we spoke to Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis about the significance of this latest installment of federal funding.
“This funding helps this region take its property and maximize its potential. To be able to get over $1 million in funding is phenomenal for the region, and as a mayor on a local level, to be able to bring jobs to our city is the most important thing I can do,” Davis said.
With a string of recent announcements to revitalize the Bayonne Waterfront, such as the one in March where Davis was also joined by Menendez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to announce nearly 2,500 warehouse and logistics jobs, we asked Davis if Bayonne residents can expect to hear future announcements of more industrial-related jobs.
“We’re actually hoping yes, absolutely.”
The entire 30-minute press conference, which streamed live on our Facebook Page, can be viewed below: