It was late in 2018 when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded $5 million to Fincantieri Marinette Marine to dredge sediment in the Menominee River to provide waterborne freight and bolster the area’s economy. Although the grant money was reported some two months ago it set the stage for good things to happen in 2019.

The appropriation means about 20,000 cubic yards of soft sediment and 10,000 cubic yards of hard sediment will be removed from the Menominee River, and therefore establish the necessary depth for the construction of ships in the Marinette-Menominee harbor. This is part of a three-year, multi-phase $100 million improvement project to accommodate the local shipyard as it gears up to build larger vessels.

We like the bipartisan efforts of newly-elected governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, and veteran state representative John Nygren of Marinette, a Republican. The improvement project has been in the works for some time and Nygren thanked former governor Scott Walker for helping lay the groundwork, and for Evers to carry through on the plans.

“In an increasingly competitive world economy, it’s easy to get left behind,” said Nygren. “That’s why it’s important for us to invest in companies like Marinette Marine that invest so heavily in Wisconsin and our workforce.”

While residents in the M&M area like to boast about the number of jobs at the local shipyard — numbers worth bragging about — they sometimes forget the number of jobs around the state and elsewhere that assist the Marinette shipyard. According to Nygren, there are more than 160 suppliers around Wisconsin with an employment bump of more than 5,400 jobs, and a $4.4 billion economic effect in northeastern Wisconsin alone.

Nygren is correct when he says competition is intense in the world economic market. He emphasized the staggering job numbers and the economic impact on the Badger state, and he doesn’t want to see Wisconsin lose its edge when competing for its slice of the market.

He says four other Wisconsin harbors will receive DOT grant money from the 2013 Harbor Assistance Program. The total spread is $7,161,500 across the board far harbor maintenance and improvement projects. The harbor assistance program was established in 1979.

It’s nice to see Gov. Evers and State Rep. Nygren working together. The Marinette lawmaker invited the governor to come to his home city for a visit. It only took Evers 10 days to pencil in Marinette on his busy travel schedule. He was impressed at what he saw at the shipyard.

Hopefully, the bipartisan ship of progress will continue to be built here and cruise to other municipalities across Wisconsin.