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Windmill project pleases businesses

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OGDENSBURG — After two weeks of watching windmill components trucked daily from the port of Ogdensburg on their way to a wind farm in Churubusco, local businesses already are feeling the impact.

And they like it, because in a city desperate for an economic boost, these shipments are good for business. An estimated 1,000 trucks carrying parts for 70 wind turbines will pass through, six days a week until October.

The 62 longshoremen and numerous related contractors are eating and sleeping in the city. They’re spending money.

“It’s been a very positive influence for the community,” said Louis J. Williams, owner of the Quality Inn, 6765 Route 37.

Mr. Williams said Friday two windmill project workers are staying at the Quality Inn while seven others are staying down the road at the Windjammer Lodge, 5843 Route 37.

He appreciates the patronage, especially now.

“It’s much-needed business,” Mr. Williams said. “The economy has been tough.”

Nearby at the Stonefence Resort Motel, 7191 Route 37, manager C.J. Patel has 10 rooms occupied by windmill project workers.

“It’s a good thing,” he said.

Downtown at the Busy Corner Cafe, 234 Ford St., co-owner Caitlin E. Morgan has seen more than a few men wearing bright-colored work vests stop in for breakfast and lunch. She is sure the city’s other restaurants have, too.

“It’s just the whole effect,” Mrs. Morgan said of the economic impact.

At Northern Physical Therapy, 203 State St., the workers weren’t fed or given places to sleep and shower. But they were given required physical examinations to make sure they were up for a summer and fall of strenuous, heavy lifting-dominated labor.

They all passed.

“Everything went very well,” said co-owner Timothy J. McLellan.

Mr. McLellan said his business earned a “significant” fee for its services.

“It’s a big impact for us,” he said Friday.

Wade A. Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, had no trouble reciting the positive economic effects of the project, starting with the state funds obtained to build the essential access road from the port to Ford Street.

“The economic activity in the region is a direct result of Gov. (Andrew M.) Cuomo’s efforts to secure funding for the port access road project, as without the road the large-scale cargo project at the Port of Ogdensburg would not have been possible and the project would have gone elsewhere,” he said. “The authority is very appreciative of Gov. Cuomo’s efforts as they directly generate significant economic activity for the north country.”

That activity, according to Mr. Davis, includes: More than $900,000 in wages; employment of workers from here, Albany, Newton Falls, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Syracuse; more than $200,000 in port improvements, including more than $100,000 in quarry stone purchases in Ogdensburg; more than $65,000 in equipment rental from regional firms; more than $40,000 for professional service providers; more than $30,000 in locally obtained supplies; more than $29,000 for local health care service providers, including Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center; and the sale of 27,000 gallons of city water to the ships while at port.

Royal A. Nelson, president of the workers’ union, Local 217-A of the International Longshoremen’s Association, said the windmill project is definitely a big one, and welcome, too.

“There hasn’t been this many men in quite a while,” he said Friday. “It is a big boost in this depressed economy.”

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