Before the predecessor institutions of UMass Dartmouth began educating the SouthCoast’s workforce in 1895, the region’s economy and culture were driven by the coastline. Today, the area is poised to re-emerge as a hub for marine-based industries, with UMassD leading the charge in bringing together the region’s assets.
Marine-related industries dot more than 40 miles of coastline from Rhode Island to Cape Cod. Commercial fishing, research, marine technology companies, offshore wind energy, and educational institutions create a corridor of innovative, job-creating economic opportunities and resources. In the center is UMass Dartmouth, a Tier 1 national research university, with partnerships, relevant academic programs, and research activities. By combining student and faculty research from each of the university’s seven colleges and schools, UMassD is poised to contribute to emerging fields of innovative research and entrepreneurship.
UMassD is the catalyst for joining higher education and research institutions, businesses, civic organizations, and the region’s unique assets to develop a Blue Economy—the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth,
improved livelihoods and jobs, coastal resiliency, and ocean ecosystem health—to fuel a revitalization of the SouthCoast economy.
UMassD sparked the conversation at a symposium hosted with the Council on Competitiveness last spring, where 100 government, industry, and higher education leaders discussed innovation and collaboration across industries and borders.
“The challenge is to build on these valuable assets and accelerate their job-creating power,” said Chancellor Robert E. Johnson.
“This region owns the maritime economy…we need to protect what we have, leverage what we have, and grow what we have,” said Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
Together with the UMassD-based SouthCoast Development Partnership, the Blue Economy has become a strategic priority, and funding has been secured to support the development of the corridor.
In September 2018, UMassD was awarded $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to encourage collaboration to attract marine technology companies, talent, and research
funding. “This grant will allow the SouthCoast to maximize the potential of its burgeoning Blue Economy and will spur growth in the region by strategic investment in the marine science sector,” said Congressman William R. Keating.
Following the EDA grant, UMassD was awarded a three-year $300,000 state investment from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “The maritime sector continues to play a vital role in Massachusetts’ economy, and presents great potential for innovation and growth,” said former Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.
“These investments will allow us to bring together business, civic, and educational leaders to design and build a new Blue Economy driven by innovation and collaboration,” said Johnson. “The history of our region’s economy has been driven by its proximity to the sea. Now, with the nation’s top fishing port, an emerging offshore wind industry, and a growing marine technology sector, the potential for economic growth along Interstate 195 is great.”