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Ogdensburg port turbine project brings windfall to area businesses

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These days, “too good to be true” is more common than “better than expected,” but the economic activity spurred by a project at the Port of Ogdensburg has exceeded expectations of its planners.

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is closing the book on the $340 million Marble River Wind Farm project after 70 wind turbines passed through the port in just over five months, and the final dollar amounts for the project impressed Executive Director Wade A. Davis.

In May, Mr. Davis predicted the 70 new port jobs would equate to around $870,000 in wages injected into the local economy.

Now, Mr. Davis reports the project created more than $950,000 in local wages.

Those numbers may have never come to be if not for the construction of a $1.8 million port access road.

Mr. Davis praised Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for helping secure funding from Empire State Development, which approved diverting funds originally slated for repairs to the New York and Ogdensburg Railroad to the port access road.

Aside from the road, more than $250,000 in improvements were made to the port itself, including upgraded rail access to the facility.

Many of the authority’s expenses during the upgrades went to local businesses.

During the project, 11 ships entered the port, buying 27,000 gallons of water from the city. The largest wind turbine blade movement by rail in U.S. history arrived at the port, 210 rail cars in all on four trains originating in Colorado.

More than 1,000 truck shipments left the port for the wind farm in Churubusco, with most drivers and support staff staying in the city during the project, and additional employees came from Albany, Newton Falls, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Syracuse.

Those workers spent their money in Ogdensburg and the surrounding area, said Sandra M. Porter, executive director of the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce.

“All summer long we saw the families of the men who are here working on these projects,” she said. “They came and spent a week or two weeks here.”

Ms. Porter said some may come back to spend tourism dollars in the area.

Mr. Davis said the presence of the project’s workers had a significant effect on restaurants and motels. The authority also estimated that laborers spent more than $29,000 for local health care service providers, most notably for requisite physical examinations at the project’s start.

There are no similar projects announced for the next season, but Mr. Davis said the authority was working to bring more wind turbines through.

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