Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined members of the legislative delegation and local leaders Thursday in cutting the ribbon inside the new refrigerated warehouse at the New Bedford State Pier.

State officials say the refrigerated facility will serve as a central hub in the Northeast for imported clementines and other perishables which are distributed throughout the Northeast and Canada.

The new facility will allow for an extended shipping season, create new jobs, and ensure New Bedford maintains its role as a major North Atlantic Port. "We'll be able to bring in perishable produce now throughout the year." says Edward Anthes Washburn, Director of the Port of New Bedford. "We've effectively making our capacity two or three times what it is now."

Funding for the $3.5 million dollar project didn't come easy. State Rep. Antonio Cabral (D-New Bedford) says members of the local delegation spent many hours urging state officials to make the investment. "The state had to step up, but we had to make the case, and I think we made the case with this project."

Jim Phillips / TSM

The storage facility was a bee-hive of activity during the ceremony, with front-end loaders zipping back in forth with pallets of clementines being loaded on to waiting trucks.

Lt. Governor Polito said the event was a "celebration of collaboration." She added, "when the state can leverage its assets and make an investment, to have a return like the one we're seeing today is clearly worth it."

Jim Phillips / TSM