Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Initiative for Innovative Solutions to Marine Economy Challenges

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The Baker-Polito Administration awarded a total of $4,150,000 for five marine infrastructure projects, and a new initiative, the SEC Grand Challenge, to leverage Massachusetts’ innovation economy for the benefit of our coastal communities.

The Seaport Economic Council will make up to $500,000 available to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) to support innovative solutions for marine and coastal communities.

The Seaport Economic Council approved the awards at today’s meeting in Quincy, which was chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Since 2015, the Seaport Economic Council has awarded $28 million through 61 grants in 36 Coastal Communities.

Governor Baker said, “We are thrilled to see the Seaport Economic Council partner with the MassTech Collaborative to better connect our communities with cutting-edge innovation, and give entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop new technologies directly with partners in the marine economy. Massachusetts continues to be a vital testing ground for new technologies, and we are excited for our coastal communities to reap the benefits.”

Lt. Governor Polito called the Seaport Economic Council “a vital resource for our coastal communities and we are proud of the work it has done since 2015. The Grand Challenge will help connect entrepreneurs and technology companies with non-profits, research institutions and municipalities to develop transformative solutions.”

The Grand Challenge Program represents an opportunity to offer innovative solutions to improve marine and coastal community resources in Massachusetts. The Internet of Things (IoT) represents technology and business innovations that can enhance the economic potential of our ocean and coastal resources that contribute to the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and provide potential solutions to today’s environmental challenges. The Grand Challenge will focus on projects that address maritime communications, maritime performance and data analysis, and commercial fishing, and cover a broad range of subjects, including aquaculture, shipping, marine biotechnology, offshore renewable energy, marine robotics and more.

The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) and the Seaport Economic Council (SEC) will partner with MassTech to fund projects that leverage the strength of IoT technologies to improve our marine and coastal communities. The Grand Challenge will encourage entrepreneurs and technology firms to work with nonprofits, research institutions, municipalities, or other public authorities on the deployment of new and novel IoT-based technology or business solutions to address important opportunities in the Marine Economy.

Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Carolyn Kirk, who is vice-chairwoman of the Seaport Economic Council, said the group “is committed to helping communities effectively leverage their maritime resources, to create new opportunities for residents, tourists and businesses. This first-of-its-kind initiative in Massachusetts is an exciting opportunity to connect our coastal communities to emerging technologies as we continue to fund vital maritime infrastructure, and reach the full potential of our blue economy.”

Seaport Economic Council Awards:

Barnstable, Fire and Rescue Training Academy – $300,000
SEC funds will contribute to the cost of a simulator for its shipboard firefighting training program to support the state’s commercial and recreational boating industry and its seaside communities. The simulator will provide maritime professionals and land-based firefighters hands-on experience with marine-related fires and suppression tactics.

Harwich, Saquatucket Harbor Landslide Renovation – $1,000,000
SEC grant will help fund the construction of a new Harbormaster Office building with expanded restroom facilities for both the public and slip permit holders. The project will also include a space for a snack building to be leased to a private operator, as well as seasonal booths to be leased and operated by local vendors and artisans.

New Bedford, New Bedford HDC Central Command Center – $1,000,000
SEC funds will help fund the construction of a command center for police and fire marine personnel, and create a response/training room for port personnel to ensure coordinated and efficient communications between all agencies responsible for daily port operations and emergency response. With the increased shipping activity as a result of the state’s investment in refrigeration of the State Pier, and the growing maritime economy of the city, it is important to protect vital economic assets in case of marine emergency.

Quincy, Quincy Maritime Center – $1,000,000
As a next phase of a 2016 SEC grant for the design of the Houghs Neck Maritime Center, this round’s SEC funds will contribute to the final design, bidding, and construction of the facility. The future facility will provide for safe, public, municipal, and emergency access to the water of Houghs Neck, improve the climate change resiliency of the site, provide improved stormwater treatment, improve public safety support infrastructure, and enhance the safety and accessibility of the site. The project will also address ADA compliance and accessibility.

Wareham, Onset Bathhouse Rehabilitation – $350,000
SEC funds will contribute toward renovation costs of the Historic Onset Bathhouse as Headquarters of the Onset Bay Center. The future center is aimed to be a headquarters, community learning center, and boat storage facility. The Center will provide high‐quality on‐the‐water exploration programs for thousands of people every year and engage with community members of all ages and abilities in a variety of activities focused on building a connection with Buzzards Bay.