As more and more waterfront parcels are zoned out of Designated Port Areas (DPA) to make way for luxury housing in Boston one company is hoping to stave off the trend and remain a viable employer in East Boston.
Last Wednesday the owners of Blue Atlantic Fabricators, a subsidiary of Boston Harbor Cruises (BHC), invited Eastie’s elected officials to its 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at the Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street for a tour.
The Blue Atlantic facility is located on the waterfront with deep water and heavy tonnage berthing access, making it ideally positioned to provide structural steel components to the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry constructors and developers, as well as being an optimal source for potential boat builds as BHC looks to expand its fleet.
“We had been using Blue Atlantic for seven or eight months to build A-Frames for our offshore division and saw a great opportunity to begin working together to try to get some of that work from the emerging offshore wind industry,” said BHC Principal Rick Nolan. “Production at Blue Atlantic is a shining example of the continuation of Boston’s working port as it was originally intended. It’s keeping a skilled trade in Massachusetts and, it allows for the next step in BHC’s ability to provide quality, local services and support to the growing east coast wind and energy market.”
Blue Atlantic General Manager Michael Julian said with just 15 skilled employees his company is doing work on around 1,500 tons of steel material each year but with the emerging offshore wind industry Blue ATlantic is poised to expand.
“Being in a DPA is very important to this endeavor,” said Julian. “I can easily see us growing to around 60 to 70 employees if we are able to get some of this wind construction work. I can tell you our employees can handle a good amount of that work in this facility.”
The only downside to Blue Atlantic’s growing business is the lack of skilled workers so Julian has been increasing the company’s profile at job fairs and local trade schools.
“We want to get these kids out of high school and trade school and show them that there is a career in working with your hands,” said Julian.
This is something elected officials like Sen. Joseph Boncore agree with and urged Julian and Nolan to explore the possibilities of increasing their visibility at East Boston High School.
“We have begun to realize that college is not for every kid,” said Boncore. “Going into a trade offers a good paying, sustainable career as skilled labor is becoming harder and harder to find for companies like Blue Atlantic. There are plenty of high school graduates that go on to college and after four years have nothing but debt and the inability to find good employment. I think by partnering with a school like EBHS and teaching students a trade may be worthwhile for not only the students but for this growing local company.
Julian said three or four of the employees are Eastie residents and most of the 15 employees are making $50,000 or more a year with benefits like health insurance and retirement.
However, Julian again reminded the elected officials on the tour, like Boncore and Rep. Adrian Madaro, that remaining a DPA is crucial.
“We are surrounded by luxury apartments at the shipyard,” said Julian. “There’s a lot of development and a lot of changing of the DPAs but is very important to us, the shipyard and the employees that work here to remain a working port.”