Suozzi, AOC Make Political Bedfellows For SUNY Maritime Funding

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U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx, Queens), Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens), and SUNY Maritime College President Michael A. Alfultis announced Monday that the House passed federal funding for the SUNY Maritime College Offshore Wind Workforce Development Project. 

If it becomes law, the funding would provide $795,000 in workforce development for offshore wind jobs that include vessels crews, wind construction and installation crews (mechanics, high voltage electricians, and welders), and inspector and quality control crews. 

It would also provide entry-level training for these jobs in the emerging regional offshore wind industry sector for New York State residents, with an estimate of nearly 5,000 New York jobs being created by 2035 through regional offshore wind deployment. 

For the first year, if this becomes law, SUNY Maritime would have the capacity to provide 24 classes and train/certify nearly 300 workers. SUNY Maritime is a member of NYSERDA’s Jobs and Supply Chain Technical Working Group, along with unions and other labor groups, to ensure best labor practices within the emerging sector. 

“While Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I don’t agree on every issue, we have found common ground on the environment and the related job creation in the green economy,” Suozzi said.  ​​

This comes as many businesses are struggling to recover from the pandemic, and the job market is slowly doing so as well. 

Ocasio-Cortez emphasized the importance of this funding for addressing the dire threat of climate change. 

“To bring those jobs and these investments to the Throggs Neck community and the Bronx first, shows that we can create hundreds of jobs addressing it,” she said. 

Recognizing the growth in the offshore renewable energy sector, SUNY Maritime College established the Center of Excellence for Offshore Energy to focus on building a clean energy workforce and encouraging research in this growing area. Offshore Wind workforce training will be provided by their Professional Mariner Training Department, which has more than 20 years of providing professional training and education. 

“Getting the type of training that we are trying to facilitate through this grant to Maritime College is important and will help make people’s lives better. Working together, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and I  will provide funding for job training so that New Yorkers can get good paying union jobs related to the offshore wind projects that are currently being developed in New York,” Suozzi added. 

The funding request is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate.