A Black-owned ship repair business has opened a new training and fabrication facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, as part of its strategy to meet qualifications for Navy vessel repairs.

Mills Marine and Ship Repair’s newly established 1.2-acre hub features a classroom, training area and a 57,000-square-foot outdoor space for assembling ship components.

Donald Mills, the company’s president and general manager, expressed enthusiasm for the new fabrication and training facility.

“We are thrilled to open this fabrication and training facility, which reflects our ongoing commitment to excellence in the maritime industry,” Mills said in a news release statement. “This facility will serve as a hub for skill development, knowledge enhancement, and innovation, ensuring that our workforce remains at the forefront of the maritime sector.”

Mills Marine and Ship Repair was established on Feb. 22, 2012, with only a few employees. Since then, the company has grown significantly, now employing over 100, according to the Virginia Pilot.

Mills stated that the facility represents one of the final stages necessary for the company to gain authorization to conduct major Navy ship repairs later this year. This step will fulfill a requirement outlined in an agreement with Naval Sea Systems Command, which he intends to finalize by this summer.

Mills, who has approximately three decades of experience in the maritime industry, said accessing capital and meeting extensive contract requirements are the difficulties his business has faced, rather than race-related issues.

“Once you get the opportunity, then you have to perform,” Mills said, per the Virginia Pilot.

He also said he aims to provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals who may face challenges securing jobs. According to the company website, it also holds job fairs for those looking to enter the maritime industry.