I am not sure if this involves one of those public-private development partnerships. (I imagine it does. It almost has to.) But all politics aside, it's pretty cool. Seems that a shipbuilder named Dirk Van Enkevort is thinking about operating a new shipyard in Erie. Not for a Disney cruise ship or something designed for intimate dinner cruises, but a big damn barge. And big damn tugboat. From the Erie Times-News:
Van Enkevort, 49, met with the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and economic development officials throughout the day to talk about details of plans for a shipyard in Erie. While nothing was signed, both sides seemed to think a deal is likely. ...
If a contract is signed, Van Enkevort Tug and Barge Co. will operate as a full-service shipyard and build a 740-foot barge and a 135-foot tug at the Erie site. Currently the business is in Escanaba, Mich., in that state's Upper Peninsula. The company, which does not have a shipyard now, employs 30.
Van Enkevort said he plans to hire 150 to 200 people if he moves to Erie.
The Port Authority has been keeping the 11-acre site and building since January, when Metro Machine announced it would not continue its $500,000-a-year lease. ...
Van Enkevort said his shipyard could start work as early as December.
His company built the Great Lakes Trader barge, which began operations in 2000. It was the first barge built on the Great Lakes in 20 years. The project, including the barge and tug, cost $38.3 million.
The barge he is hoping to build in Erie would be a sister ship to the Great Lakes Trader. It would carry up to 39,000 gross tons.
So credit where credit is due, to whomever is involved. This is not a stadium. And it is not a convention center. Erie has industry, commerce and the lake in its blood. Anything that can keep that pumping--while recognizing that the economy is not like it was in 1950 and never will be again--seems like a step in the right direction.
And you have to love any maneuver that adds someone named Dirk Van Enkevort to western Pennsylvania's economy. Sounds like some sort of improbable hero out of an improbable Ayn Rand novel. No, she wouldn't like the "partnership" either. But she'd like the big boat. I'll leave the Freudian speculation to readers.
Not sure if the folks from the Tube City Almanac are reading, but this seems like something along these lines.