Stimulus Shines on Small Shipyards

Funding programs that meet specific goals and targets and contribute to improved performance was only one of many goals the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set out to achieve. As Industrial Lift and Hoist notes on page 26, the Stimulus Package designated $300 million for vehicles that use alternative fuels. Specifically, $41.9 million of the package was appropriated for fuel cell technology, and much of those funds have been engendered to increase the manufacturing volume of fuel cells in key markets such as material handling, and companies with large fleets of forklifts are now utilizing fuel cell technology and installing hydrogen fueling stations at their facilities.

Forklift fleet operators aren’t the only ones recently benefiting from the Stimulus Package. In August, small shipyards from coast to coast received an influx of funds for improvements. Small shipyards are categorized as companies with fewer than 600 employees or with 600 to 1,200 employees.

The Maritime Administration received $100 million for the Small Shipyards Grant Program—a ten-fold increase over 2008. The grant program  provides 75 percent federal funds with 25 percent matching funds from the shipyard for capital improvements and related infrastructure improvements, which will foster efficiency, competitive operations, and quality ship construction and repair.

The Maritime Administration’s website, marad.dot.gov, indicates 70 grants totaling $98 million will be used to improve small shipyards (the other $2 million was designated for program administration), and it lists which companies received the funds and where they will be used. Topping the list were training program implementations, steel fabrication updates, new and expanded drydocks, paint booths, and lifting equipment. In fact, 28 small shipyards reported they were spending their stimulus dollars on forklifts, aerial lifts, rubber-tire gantries, mobile cranes, hydraulic dollies, and overhead cranes. These machines included all sizes and types.

For example, Fairhaven Shipyard Companies, Fairhaven, Mass., reports it will spend $1. 6 million on a 400-ton travelift; Master Boat Builders Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala., has appropriated $2.3 for 300-ton crawler crane and two rough terrain cranes; and Senesco Marine, North Kingtown, R.I., will be spending $1.7 million for a transporter and four overhead cranes. Reviewing the funds acquired by the shipyards that are reportedly purchasing equipment, the amount totals more than $34 million—with a large portion of it to be spent on lifting equipment.

Even without stimulus funds, large shipyards are continuing to acquire lifting equipment. The Alabama State Port Authority’s Pinto Terminal recently purchased two 50-ton P-Series P1000 forklifts from Hoist Liftruck, Bedford Park, Ill., to handle steel slabs shipped from the $115 million port, which is scheduled to open in December 2009. Despite the slump in sales for lifting equipment, Hoist Liftruck reports it has experienced an upswing in sales both domestically and internationally and notes the economy is “heading in the right direction.”

Shipyards are only one example where these small pockets of growth are occurring. While $100 million may not sound like much, increased orders for mobile and overhead cranes, aerial lifts, and forklifts are encouraging.

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