The city's Economic Development Council kicked off the first-ever City Council Employment Opportunities Committee meeting Wednesday, with a presentation on the new Marine Commerce Terminal.

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The terminal is expected to become a staging area for the Cape Wind turbine project, and other similar projects along the Eastern Seaboard. However, local activists and elected officials are concerned about area laborers and tradespeople being shut out of opportunities to work at the terminal.

E-D-C Director Matt Morrissey says the partnership between the city and those operating the terminal will only work, if the industry takes time to invest in New Bedford's workforce.

Chairman Jim Oliveira says job preparation, specifically for laborers and tradespeople, will be a key focus of his committee.

Dozens of bids for constructing the Marine Commerce Terminal have been recieved, and currently three have made it to a final review. The contract will be awarded to the lowest qualifying bidder, and groundbreaking on the 19-month project is expected to take place in April.