The Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council has awarded $862,000 in competitive grants to the College of Engineering and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as part of $2.6 million in statwide wide awards to grow the blue economy and support job creation in coastal cities and towns.
“Massachusetts leads the world’s blue economy and our administration is committed to supporting its regional growth in the Commonwealth’s 78 coastal communities by investing in education, planning, and research efforts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The important investments by the Seaport Economic Council in technological research and development will ensure Massachusetts maintains a strong employment base in the blue economy of the future.”
“Council grants will help communities plan for growth and leverage their unique economic assets to support job creation and business expansion,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Seaport Economic Council. “Funding marine infrastructure improvements and educational programs supports small business growth and ensures residents can access the skills they need for employment in the maritime economy.”
The College of Engineering-led initiative ($612,000) draws upon four leading marine and robotics technology organizations to develop new approaches to provide autonomy for unmanned underwater vehicles and prove their usefulness on key missions. This will be done in a collaboration between students at UMass Dartmouth, Northeastern University, and private research companies. This research and development will move the marine robotics sector forward, while engaging and educating students. This program will also provide key new research infrastructure, two undersea robots, for university research.
The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship project ($250,000) will upgrade th eCIE's Mechanical and Prototyping Laboratory and Technology Venture Center to attract, support, and retain marine technology startups in southeastern Massachusetts. These facilities will leverage CIE’s experience working with marine technology startups, expanding on a successful program that has already spun out five marine technology firms into established Massachusetts businesses.
“Massachusetts coastal communities support a blue economy that encompasses everything from part-time scallopers to artists and underwater vehicle designers” said Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Carolyn Kirk. “Supporting municipal planning efforts, infrastructure improvements, and educational programs will help ensure that these communities retain their diverse and strong economies.”
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 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.
Other Grant Recipients:
Bunker Hill Community College – $150,000
Bunker Hill Community College will partner with College Bound Dorchester to foster awareness of the maritime economy sector among Boston’s youth, and will ensure that students gain the necessary skills and certificates – including carpentry, woodworking, electrical, and plumbing skills – to engage in maritime trades.
Chelsea Harbor Plan - $120,000
The City of Chelsea will prepare a Municipal Harbor Plan to allow for greater flexibility in waterfront development. This planning process will support Chelsea’s development of a strategic path to achieve its waterfront goals and objectives.
Fairhaven Union Wharf Improvements - $950,713
The Town of Fairhaven will use funds to construct Phase 2 of the West Wall Union Wharf Bulkhead Replacement and Improvements. The Wharf is within the Designated Port Area and is currently used by commercial scallopers, draggers and lobster boats. Improvements will allow the Wharf to accommodate additional commercial fishing, charter fishing, and public safety dockage.
John Adams Innovation Institute - $147,500
The Seaport Economic Council will partner with the John Adams Innovation Institute to implement the Council’s Innovation Grants Program in a way that maximizes successful investment in innovation-based economic development projects.
Quincy Maritime Center - $225,000
The City of Quincy will use grant funding to complete permitting, engineering, geotechnical services, and architectural designs for the Hough’s Neck Maritime Center Building.
Swampscott Harbor Plan - $50,000
The Town of Swampscott will undertake a harbor plan, integrating harbor and waterfront initiatives with existing town plans and developments. The plan will focus on identifying and prioritizing necessary coastal infrastructure improvements, evaluating proactive actions to address storm surge and sea-level rise, and encouraging the economic development of the historical waterfront.
University of Massachusetts Boston Urban Harbors Institute – $89,569
Significant economic growth potential exists in the Massachusetts seafood economy, but coordinated strategies and investments are required to realize this potential over time. The Urban Harbors Institute will research the details of these approaches and their applicability to the on-the-ground conditions in Massachusetts’ fishing ports.