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Ørsted opens trust to bring women, minority businesses into offshore wind
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Ørsted opens trust to bring women, minority businesses into offshore wind

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Small minority- and women- owned businesses will soon be able to start applying for $15 million in grants to help them become part of the offshore wind supply chain.

On Thursday, Ørsted North America’s Pro-NJ Grantor Trust Fund announced details of the fund and the process to apply. Beginning Feb. 1, business people can visit pronjtrust.org and download the Request for Expressions of Interest.

Ørsted President David Hardy said the company hopes the fund enables small women- and minority-owned businesses to retool to participate in offshore wind.

“We will allocate up to $6 million this year and $2 million a year over the next few years to the full $15 million,” Hardy said.

The fund also will support resiliency efforts in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties, he said. The trust will issue a separate call for letters of interest for those projects later in the year.

“Resiliency projects can be quite expensive. We don’t’ have fixed allocations ... but we want a significant portion to go to women-owned and minority-owned businesses,” Hardy said.

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Three volunteer trustees will make all the funding decisions: attorney Beverly McCall, of Ocean City, who is board chair; Belinda Manning, of Pleasantville, a retired organizational development professional and community volunteer/activist; and Lori Pepenella, of Barnegat Township, CEO of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

“Hopefully we will be inundated. That’s our dream,” McCall said Thursday.

She said the board expects to award the first grants to small businesses this summer, then follow up with sustainability project grants in the fall.

“We have kept it pretty wide open. We are trying to keep arm’s length on this actual decision making. ... We have given guidance around what the purpose is, but those three women will be the deciders,” Hardy said.

He expects the awards to range from about $10,000 to as much as a half-million for companies who are looking to provide specific services and products needed by the industry. They range from supply and maintenance for marine vessels and aviation to janitorial and food service.

A community-based advisory committee composed of nine people from Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties will help support the trust’s mission, Hardy said.

This is the first time the company has created such a trust fund, Hardy said.

“This is our first try. We don’t know how it is going to go,” he said. “It was part of the winning bid,” Hardy said of Ørsted’s successful 2019 bid to win ratepayer subsidy to construct a 1,100-megawatt offshore wind farm about 15 miles southeast of Atlantic City.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which is reviewing bids for the second round of wind-farm subsidies, required companies to compete on how much economic activity they would generate for local businesses, as well as on how much power they could provide at what cost.

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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