(Photo: Mass Maritime Academy)
This week the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council announced $5.15 million in grant awards to support the maritime economy by facilitating economic growth, supporting coastal infrastructure and increasing educational opportunities.
Dartmouth, Gloucester, Harwich, Hingham, Nahant, New Bedford, Plymouth, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth all received grants. The projects include infrastructure improvements that focus on long-term resilience, planning efforts that can unlock significant economic growth potential, and research that can make clean energy more affordable for coastal communities.
Governor Charlie Baker said the administration “is committed to helping coastal communities achieve sustainable growth by supporting the thousands of residents that drive our marine economy. Investing in community planning, infrastructure improvements, and locally directed actions that meet our standards of resilience and sustainability will keep these communities strong while supporting the Commonwealth’s economy.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Chairwoman of the Seaport Economic Council, said the grants “will help coastal communities unlock economic growth and job creation on their waterfronts and beyond. The investments made will support local jobs and reinforce Massachusetts’ leadership in diverse sectors of the maritime economy, from commercial fishing to clean energy generation.”
Carolyn Kirk, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, said, “The maritime economy has driven economic growth and job creation in Massachusetts since its foundation. These grants help ensure that our coastal communities have diverse and strong economies.” Kirk is Vice Chair of the Seaport Economic Council and former Mayor of the port city of Gloucester.
The Seaport Economic Council was re-launched in August 2015. Its mission is to deepen the maritime economy, promote economic development, and support resilient infrastructure in all 78 of Massachusetts’ coastal communities. while preparing them to engage with the challenges posed by sea level rise and increasingly powerful coastal storms. The council’s capital grant program supports working waterfronts, local tourism, coastal resiliency, and maritime innovation, from the North Shore to Cape Cod and the South Coast.
Cape Cod Commission – $180,000
The Cape Cod Commission will use Seaport Economic Council funding to develop a plan for maritime economy expansion. This plan will focus on leveraging existing strengths, including a well-developed research community and a long history of entrepreneurship, to create regional economic growth and increase the number of non-seasonal skilled jobs.
Dartmouth – $1,000,000
Dartmouth’s grant will allow the town to purchase a parcel on its Upper Harbor for development as a welcome center, addressing a community-identified need for public waterfront access. The area will provide educational and recreational opportunities, and will complement the Town’s investment in Padanaram Village by drawing people to new restaurants and local businesses.
Gloucester – $151,000
Gloucester’s grant is focused on sustaining and improving the 40 percent of the City’s economy that relies on fishing, processing, shore-side services, and related businesses. It will allow to city to exhibit its seafood locally, regionally and nationally, and will support a branding campaign for “Gloucester Fresh Seafood.” Funding will also help the Fishermen’s Wives Association to procure additional contracts for Gloucester’s seafood with restaurants and institutions.
Harwich – $1,000,000
Harwich’s Seaport Economic Council grant supports the town’s efforts to repair the East Dock of the Municipal Marina. This includes significant repairs to the dock’s basic infrastructure, and the replacement of 74 boat slips. The investment supports residents and local businesses.
Hingham – $700,000
The Seaport Economic Council’s grant will allow Hingham to build a Maritime Center on Bathing Beach that will support local recreational, commercial, and educational activities. It will allow the town the more effectively promote the Hingham Farmer’s Market and related events, will facilitate boat and paddleboard rentals to residents and tourists, and will provide space to highlight Hingham’s rich history.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy – $1,000,000
Funding for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy will support the Pier Extension for Marina Dockage. This will increase the Academy’s capacity to deliver effective training, support educational opportunities, and partner with educational institutions to perform research and development. It will also allow the Academy to provide secure dockage for federal and state emergency response vessels.
Nahant – $410,000
The Seaport Economic Council grant to Nahant will reconstruct and stabilize protective walls around Tudor Wharf, to protect the livelihood of Nahant’s commercial fishermen and lobstermen. It will also replace the aging boat ramp and improve associated areas used for boat and equipment storage, support their recreational and commercial use.
New Bedford – $250,000
The grant will support planning efforts on the New Bedford waterfront and help identify opportunities for investment in infrastructure and site improvements. This will supplement efforts by the City to reduce barriers to private development along the waterfront and draw new business and jobs to New Bedford.
Plymouth – $219,322
Seaport Economic Council funding will help Plymouth to finalize engineering and permitting on its proposed Maritime Facility, and develop a harbor plan. As the second busiest state port and boat ramp in Massachusetts, Plymouth has the potential to leverage untapped economic growth in its harbor and build on a previous Seaport Economic Council Planning Grant awarded in 2009.
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth – $239,898
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will use Seaport Economic Council funding to support research and development in wave energy. The research has the potential to dramatically reduce manufacturing and deployment costs associated with traditional wave energy generators, making devices smaller, easier to use, and more cost effective.
Here is more information on the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council.