Support Our Working Waterfront Press Conference
Sprague Energy Terminal, South Portland
Monday, September 23, 2013
“Good morning. My name is Matt Marks, I am the CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Maine, and I grew up just one mile away from here in South Portland. In fact, I played hockey on a pond during the winter as kid on land owned by the oil company. I rode my bike on a dirt trail behind my street that is now paved as part of the greenbelt, and enjoyed by everyone, with an easement from the oil industry. They are in fact good neighbors.
The report is clear to us-the WPO as written and as presented to voters in November is reckless. The economic impact on the working waterfront is real, quantifiable, and devastating, just as we believed.
Maine cannot afford to lose more jobs. In our industry unemployment reached 26% since peak in 2006. We lost over 8,000 jobs and have dug ourselves back to just under 5,500 unemployed construction workers. We cannot afford to slide back. Higher fuel prices, thousands of lost jobs, is the reality of passing the WPO.
Mayor Tom Blake told me very few people actually work in the shipyard zone at the fuel terminals. He is wrong. The welding companies, the electricians, pump companies, material suppliers, technicians; all who are contracted to keep our waterfront operating, are part of the working waterfront. They all matter to me, and they should matter to Mayor Tom Blake, and the City of South Portland. I am embarrassed by the lack of engagement by city leaders to communicate the serious impact the WPO will have on our tax base, jobs and energy security, but I believe my neighbors in South Portland will make the right choice in November.
The women and men standing behind me with hard hats are hard working Mainers. They deserve better. We are making great strides to put the unemployed construction workers back to work, and every single time we drive more business from our state we are driving more talented, young Mainers to places where the economy is encouraged to grow.
Last week I met a South Portland business owner who this year built a new roof on one of the buildings in this facility…those are real jobs. Behind me is the owner of a company that provides welding services at the terminals. Today we learned his $1.5 million contract was suspended, as the owners wait for the outcome of the November election. That is real money…and Mayor Blake, it will provide real jobs.
Don’t be fooled by scare tactics, this is not just about a pipeline. Mayor Blake told me that his vision, and that shared by others, is to replace these important fuel terminals with green energy, like windmills and biomass facilities. We support green energy too; in fact many of our members build those facilities. However, these local tax-paying businesses deserve better than being run out of town. Local leaders should be appalled to think a business owner should change their products, and forced to do so by policy. Second, it is absurd. State policies regarding commercial wind tower siting would prevent that from happening, and some of the same groups supporting the WPO, also protest commercial wind energy projects. South Portland residents should be outraged.
For over 100 years the working waterfront has been vital to our local economy providing reliable energy and revenue for our great city and important for contractors like you see behind me today. Moving South Portland from the blue-collar roots celebrated by our city for decades would be a dangerous mistake. The WPO is risky, reckless, and wrong for South Portland.”
Chartered in 1951, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Maine is the state’s largest construction industry trade association. The Association maintains an office in Augusta and has more than 200 members statewide. Member companies include general contractors, sub-contractors, and service and supply providers. For more information visit www.agcmaine.org.