Mills Marine snips ribbon

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From left, Mayor Linda T. Johnson, Ernestine Mills and Donald Mills cut the ribbon Wednesday at Mills Marine and Ship Repair’s new office at 211 Market St. The company expects to hire about 50 people this year.

City officials on Wednesday helped cut a ribbon for an expanding business that is looking to hire about 100 people during the next two years.

Mills Marine and Ship Repair now has an office location at 211 Market St. Owner Donald Mills and his wife, Ernestine Mills, hosted a crowd at the office Wednesday for the ceremony.

“I believe we’re standing on the threshold of an industrial revolution,” he said. “Our course has been set, and our destination has been predetermined.”

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The company will provide fabrication, sub-assemblies, steel plating, components and engine repair and overhaul this year, Mills said.

In addition, he hopes to break ground next year on a shop for ship repair. He is in negotiations on the price of the site, he said.

The business will hire 50 new employees by the end of the year, he said, and will double that staffing level next year.

It also will start an apprenticeship program with Tidewater Community College, with the first classes starting this June, Mills said.

“Small businesses are leading the charge,” he said. “It’s a great time to be in the city of Suffolk.”

Mills added that he will actively seek to hire ex-convicts who are trying to get their lives back together.

“It’s a great emphasis for rebuilding and continuing the growth downtown,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said at the ceremony. “We love you, and we will be here for you.”

Councilman Charles Parr recalled the building’s former uses — a seafood market and then a travel agency.

“Now it’s going back to the sea with Mills Marine,” he said. “I am so glad you chose Suffolk. This, I’m hoping, is just one step in many, many steps of revitalization of downtown.”