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Naval shipyards, thousands of jobs could be coming to Lorain and Lordstown

Naval shipyards, thousands of jobs could be coming to Lorain and Lordstown thanks to project proposal
Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 28, 2022

LORAIN, Ohio — The U.S. military, Biden administration, and other Washington officials are discussing a proposal that would bring naval shipyards to Lorain and Lordstown.

The project could mean thousands of new jobs created in Northeast Ohio.

“The U.S. Navy does not have enough organic infrastructure to properly maintain the submarine force,” said Capt. Ed Bartlett, the founder of the Bartlett Maritime Corporation.

Bartlett formed the company back in 2019 to address that issue. He said the solution to the problem is the Lordstown-Lorain Project.

“Due to the unfortunate closure of multiple industrial plants along the north coast of Ohio. We've had a lot of folks that are unemployed or underemployed. Skilled tradespeople are available here,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett’s plan is to build enclosed production facilities in both cities to work on submarines. He said it's a multi-billion dollar project funded with both private and federal money and it would create 5,000 to 6,000 direct, permanent jobs, along with thousands more indirectly.

“Some of the local unions have reached out to me already, they are very enthusiastic about this. And they will do anything in their power to help,” said Lorain mayor Jack Bradley.

Bradley has been working with Bartlett from the beginning. He admits he wasn’t sure anything would happen until the AFL-CIO signed off on the project Thursday in Washington.

He said Lorain would gain a minimum of 3,000 jobs from the project. He said Lorain County Community College has agreed to partner with unions to provide job training to attract young people to skilled trades and get some of the jobs that will be available.

Anthony Gallo, president and CEO of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, said the potential investment in the area is massive.

“I grew up in Lorain, so I know how desperately the jobs are needed. I was around when American shipbuilding was still in Lorain, so I've kind of seen the devastation that took place after they pulled out. So when you talk about those types of numbers, that's a huge investment,” said Gallo.

A definitive location for the new facility in Lorain hasn’t been set, but officials are looking at a couple places, including the old Gypsum plant along the Black River. They’re also looking into land owned by Republic Steel along the river.

Bradley said it could mean a shipbuilding renaissance for Lorain.

“We had a very, very proud tradition of building ships here. And I'm sure some of those former ship builders, who probably are in heaven now, are smiling saying, ‘Alright, we're getting shipbuilding back in the city of Lorain,’” said Bradley.

As for Lordstown, Bartlett said the city was chosen to be part of the project because of its location and community members.

“It's the availability of the rail, CSX and Norfolk Southern. The Ohio Turnpike, Interstate 76, Interstate 80—it’s well connected to wherever you need to go. Plus it's got two airports within about an hour, two major airports, Cleveland, Pittsburgh. And then it's got the workforce and it's got a very cooperative local community. Just like Lorain, Lordstown has been very helpful and very supportive,” said Bartlett.

But before any construction happens, the Biden administration has to give the final OK. Bartlett doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“I just got an email from the White House right before I talked to you,” said Bartlett.

He’s hoping to get a definitive answer soon and break ground in Lorain and Lordstown by October.

“We're in the football playoff season, right? We're on the five-yard line. We're not quite in the end zone yet, but we're hopeful that we'll be under contract within a month,” said Bartlett.

Congressman Tim Ryan released a statement to News 5 about the Lordstown-Lorain Project: “Congressman Ryan has been working with Bartlett Maritime Corporation for over a year on this project. While the project remains under development, Ryan is supportive and hopeful it will come to fruition.”

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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