New offshore wind training facility could bring a boost to Salisbury’s economy

SALISBURY, Md. – As the nation moves toward relying more on renewable energy, one local company is getting ready to provide training for those workers. “Everybody needs to go through training, and it’s a lot of people at the same time. So in the end I think we will have delegates here from the whole country,” said President of Arcon Training Center Katarina Ennerfelt.

Arcon Training Center will soon be one of the only places on the East Coast where people can get the safety training they need to become offshore wind workers. “With our new administration we know that the alternative energy will be a whole different ball game,” said Katarina.

That’s something that the Greater Salisbury Committee says could be a huge economic opportunity for the city of Salisbury.  “That would mean workers coming into the area for two to five days at a time, staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, shopping in our shops,” said President and CEO of GSC Mike Dunn.

The facility offers four safety training modules, including training on moving material, equipment, or people safely. Trainees also learn about first aid and fire awareness, and how to safely scale and descend from great heights. “We have four modules that we’re currently doing, one being the working at height. As you can see, we have the structure behind us where you learn to climb properly and be able to descend and also do some rescuing of people and equipment,” said Arcon Project Manager and Engineer Christian Ennerfelt.

Some of the training equipment used in the modules already represents a boost to the local economy. Christian says a 24-foot steel structure used for training was the biggest investment for the company’s training facility. The structure was made by Patriot Steel, based in Cambridge. “We’re trying to keep as much work as we can local. It’s hard on the small details, but we do what we can to keep it locally here,” said Christian.

Arcon is a family-owned company, that teamed up with the United Kingdom’s leading wind training, AIS Training, to boost the wind training industry in the United States. Dunn says Katarina and Christian’s drive to expand their business is a perfect example of Salisbury’s entrepreneurial community. “Small business and entrepreneurship is the drum beat and the back bone of the lower shore economy,” said Dunn.

The facility was supposed to be completed in April of last year. But Katarina says COVID-19 threw a wrench in their plans. “We didn’t know when we could possibly get going. We didn’t know when we could get the certification that we need to be able to train people,” said Katarina.

Now that the work is complete and COVID-19 safety precautions are in place, Katarina says she and Christian are excited to get the ball rolling. “By supplying this we are kind of adding on to the already existing skills training. We’re generating economic development for the Eastern Shore,” said Katarina.

Arcon tells 47ABC that over the past few weeks they’ve been doing audit training courses. Those courses are monitored by the Global Wind Organization to make sure their training is up to snuff. So far, the company says they’ve passed with flying colors. The company says they plan to open up their training classes completely in about two weeks. That’s after they get their final approval from the GWO. Katarina says they’re working toward having one module per week, with up to 12 students per class.

Katrina tells 47ABC they’re hoping to expand beyond that in the future. Plus, she says the company is currently working on their sea survival module. Those skills would come in handy for situations where a worker on a wind turbine at sea might be in danger.

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