Massachusetts Awards $6.4 Million in Grants to Support and Modernize the Maritime Economy

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Lt. Governor Karyn Polito chairs the Seaport Economic Council

This week the Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $6.4 million in Seaport Economic Council Grants to support projects in 6 communities and 4 educational institutions.

The grants will support development that stimulates the expansion and modernization of the maritime sector, research that prepares for shifts in climate and industry, and educational programs that increase participation in the blue economy. The grants were approved at a Seaport Economic Council meeting, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito at South Boston’s Flynn Cruiseport.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “Expanding capacity, resiliency, and opportunity in coastal communities will ensure the vitality of the Commonwealth’s maritime industry for years to come. Our administration will continue to prioritize Massachusetts’ leadership in the global blue economy through the guidance of the Seaport Economic Council.”

Lt. Governor Polito said, “The forward-thinking proposals made by coastal communities have empowered the achievement of key local, regional, and statewide initiatives. I am pleased that the grants awarded today will support the unique needs of each community, while addressing both present and future challenges.”

Since its 2015 re-launch, the Seaport Economic Council has invested over $39 million in 83 projects ranging from local to statewide in scale, with an emphasis on supporting coastal infrastructure. In its first slate of grants for 2019, the council has maintained this priority, awarding more than $3.5 million to projects ranging from shipyard, harbor, and public space upgrades to site development. It has also affirmed its commitment to education and research, granting more than $3 million for projects such as emergency preparedness and increasing maritime industry opportunities and awareness.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said, “The Seaport Economic Council awards announced today by Lt. Governor Polito will boost the economic strength of these coastal communities and educational institutions engaged there. Our administration recognizes the significance of the maritime industry to Massachusetts’ heritage, and remains committed to empowering this sector to unlock new growth opportunities statewide.”

The Council awarded $640K in grants to Boston-based projects to support harbor improvements and workforce development, including $245,000 to improve drydock capacity for Boston Ship Repair, $245,000 to support a partnership between Roxbury Community College and College Bound Dorchester that prepares low-income youth for jobs in the maritime sector, and $150,000 to study the feasibility of extending ferry service to Columbia Point.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, “The Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park is an economic engine for the City of Boston, employing over 5,000 workers, many in the maritime and related industries. This grant will support jobs at Boston Ship Repair, while building on our energy efficiency goals to create a cleaner, stronger Boston for generations to come.”

Director Brian Golden of the Boston Planning & Development Agency said the grant “will help maintain the maritime and industrial working-class jobs at Boston Ship Repair while promoting energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park. I thank the Seaport Economic Council for their shared partnership in supporting Boston’s waterfront industries.”

Another 5 communities and 2 educational systems will receive over $5.3 million in grants, supporting a wide range of projects and studies. Municipal, Legislative and educational leaders expressed support for these efforts.

CEO Wendy Northcross of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are thrilled to receive funding to build our Expedition: Blue! Installations and to build the brand of our regional Blue Economy. We are grateful to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Seaport Council for nurturing and growing our vision of a strong and resilient economy based on our water assets.”

The Seaport Economic Council advances the Baker-Polito Administration’s support for communities and residents across the state by leveraging unique economic assets to drive sustainable regional growth. The council was re-launched in August 2015, with a mission to grow the maritime economy, promote economic development, and support resilient infrastructure in all 78 of Massachusetts’ coastal communities, while preparing them to respond to the challenges posed by rising sea levels 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.

Investments in coastal communities are crucial to Massachusetts’ economy, safety, and environment. The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to provide resources and programs, like Seaport Economic Council grants and MassWorks infrastructure awards, to ensure that coastal communities can improve, strengthen, and protect the Commonwealth’s coastal assets.

Seaport Economic Council Grant Recipients – Boston:

Boston – $245,750

Boston’s grant will enable the Boston Planning and Development Agency to make vital upgrades to Drydock #3’s electrical service. This will provide the shipyard with sufficient shore power for modern vessels, and will eliminate the use of diesel generators. Doing so will significantly improve safety, optimize operations, increase energy efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions, pollution, traffic, and noise. Furthermore, the upgrade will enable Boston Ship Repair to be more competitive in bids for work, which will increase the drydock utilization rate, and thus the demand for local skilled laborers.

Roxbury Community College & College Bound Dorchester – $245,750

Seaport Economic Council funding will support an innovative partnership between Roxbury Community College and College Bound Dorchester that fosters awareness of the maritime sector and its traditions among Boston’s growing population of Opportunity Youth, most of whom are low-income people of color with historically limited exposure and access to the industry. By exposing this population to these high paying opportunities and the training in engineering and physics required to take advantage of them, the partnership increases both opportunity for youth and the quantity and quality of potential contributors to the sector.

University of Massachusetts Boston – $150,000

Seaport Economic Council funds will be used to conduct a feasibility study on revitalizing Fallon State Pier and the adjacent upland area. The study will identify the on-water and shore-side infrastructure needed to facilitate use of the Pier within the year-round water transportation system in Boston Harbor, and explore the needs relative to other anticipated leisure and recreational uses, such as harbor tours and whale watches.

Additional Awardees – Including Statewide:

Barnstable, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce & Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation – $1,000,000

The Town of Barnstable, the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and the Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation will together put Seaport Economic Council funding toward Expedition: Blue! The project will create a network of interconnected sites across the region where participants will be able to learn about and experience everyday activities that tie its maritime heritage to the modern blue economy.

Falmouth & Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - $1,000,000

Falmouth’s grant will support the next phase of planning to develop a state-of-the-art Complex for Waterfront Access To Exploration and Research (CWATER): a next-generation, world-class, sustainable waterfront marine research complex. This complex and the research and employment opportunities provided by it will greatly benefit the Woods Hole and Falmouth communities, as well as the entire Massachusetts blue economy.

Gloucester – $1,000,000

Gloucester’s grant will support improvements to its Harbormaster Office and Visiting Boater Center. This will allow the Harbormaster to meet the increasing community demand on the office, which includes responding to safety calls, staffing special events that take place on the water, and meeting all other needs for the growing number of visiting and local boaters.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy – $1,000,000

Seaport Economic Council funding will support the creation of a coastal emergency management simulator. The simulator will provide a training platform for undergraduate and graduate emergency management students, and assist coastal communities statewide in developing and strengthening disaster preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts.

New Bedford – $240,000

The New Bedford Port Authority will use its grant toward the purchase and redevelopment of an underutilized 29 acre waterfront property with direct water access. By encouraging diverse and sustainable use of the property, the NBPA will support and create jobs in traditional and emerging blue industries, and create opportunities for the public to connect with the waterfront.

Saugus – $1,000,000

Saugus’ grant will enable the final design and construction of the first phase of the Saugus RiverWalk. The project will connect the town-owned boat launch to bike and pedestrian lanes, improve public access to the Saugus River, promote foot traffic for the restored Rumney Marsh area, and encourage commercial fishermen and recreational boat users to visit the area.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth – $150,000

Seaport Economic Council funding will create an environment where relevant regional institutions, businesses, and universities can collaboratively develop the Southeastern Massachusetts Marine Science and Technology Corridor. Over three years, the project will develop a plan and build support through the Corridor Alliance to diversify and expand economic opportunities from fishing and seasonal tourism industries to jobs in engine and turbine manufacturing, wind and hydro power generation, nautical systems manufacturing, and coastal water transportation technologies.

University of Massachusetts System - $276,854

Seaport Economic Council funding will enable the University of Massachusetts to further enhance the fishing industry’s contribution to the economy of the Commonwealth. UMass will leverage the diverse expertise and research capacity of its five campuses to take an innovative, multidisciplinary approach, addressing aspects of the seafood economy ranging from habitat and fishery management to marketing and economic forces. In so doing, Massachusetts will be able to improve its fishing industry by both reinvigorating traditional components of the system, including diversifying catches and increasing consumption of locally caught fish, and supporting the growth of emerging segments, such as value-added products, waste recovery, fuel-efficient boats, environmental restoration, research initiatives, cultural activities, downtown development, and heritage tourism.