Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash announced a three-year $300,000 state investment in the UMass Dartmouth and SouthCoast Development Partnership (SCDP)-led effort to develop a “blue economy corridor” in Southeastern Massachusetts.
“The maritime sector continues to play a vital role in Massachusetts’ economy, and presents great potential for innovation and growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “The blue economy relies on our talented workforce for jobs ranging from part-time scallopers to underwater vehicle designers and artists. The Baker-Polito administration actively engages with our 78 coastal communities, including providing dedicated support and funding through the Seaport Economic Council, which Governor Baker re-started in 2015. Through strategic investments in planning, infrastructure and education, we will continue to partner to ensure the long-term strength of the blue economy.”
“Our region, like no other in Massachusetts, is economically and culturally tied to the sea, and this investment by the Commonwealth will help us accelerate the job-creating activity of our business, civic, and educational sectors,” said Chancellor Robert E. Johnson. “I want to thank Secretary Ash and the Baker-Polito administration for the confidence they are showing in our ability to collaborate across the region.”
“This investment reflects our collective commitment to improving the quality of life for our residents through forward-thinking, transformational economic development,” said SCDP Co-Chair Nick Christ.
“This initiative leverages our region’s coastal assets in a way that sets a new bar for marine science and technology economic development initiatives,” said SCDP Co-Chair Dave Slutz.
“Southeastern Massachusetts is at a turning point, and the growth of the marine industry cluster will help lead the region into its next chapter – one of increased economic prosperity,” said SCDP Executive Director Hugh Dunn.
Secretary Ash’s announcement, held at the Claire T. Carney Library at UMass Dartmouth, follows a September 6 announcement of a $600,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to form a regional collaboration to create a Marine Science and Technology supercluster - the Southeastern Massachusetts Marine Science and Technology Corridor.
That announcement came just six months after Chancellor Johnson convened a Blue Economy symposium on campus that attracted 100 government, industry, and higher education leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges related to the marine economy. The event produced a whitepaper that details the potential for regional blue economy growth.
In addition, the UMass Dartmouth-based SouthCoast Development Partnership has made the development of the blue economy a regional strategic priority, along with commuter rail, educational attainment, and development of UMass Dartmouth as the only Tier 1 national research university south of Boston.
The initiative aims to examine the blue economy supply chain, workforce, higher education research, challenges to growth and exporting goods, and other factors to facilitate global branding and marketing of the region, address unemployment, facilitate higher wage employment opportunities, and diversify the regional economy.
The UMass Dartmouth-based SouthCoast Development Partnership represents the largest employers, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions in the SouthCoast region of Massachusetts. The growth of the marine science and technology industry has been a priority for the Partnership, especially with the emergence of the offshore wind industry in the region.
UMass Dartmouth is recognized for its excellence in marine science and technology via the School for Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford, the College of Engineering on the main campus in Dartmouth, and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Fall River.