The SouthCoast Development Partnership is committed to strengthening the maritime science and technology industries of this region.
As populations migrate toward the ocean in some regions and away from the coastline in others, the prosperity of nations, states, and communities will increasingly depend on their collective ability to balance economic imperatives and environmental constraints.
The SouthCoast of Massachusetts has been a hub of marine-related industries since the earliest days of the nation. In the 19th century, the Port of New Bedford was considered the most important whaling port on earth and the Port of Fall River was a maritime manufacturing powerhouse. While these two working ports remain active, the mainstay economic drivers of the coastal Massachusetts economy south of Boston, especially in the region along Interstate 195, have encountered difficult challenges for the past several decades.
Yet, heritage and a physical connection to the coastline have fertilized promising clusters of maritime-based economic activity, from commercial fishing to marine technology to offshore wind energy to tourism, creating an emerging SouthCoast Blue Corridor in Massachusetts, from the Rhode Island border to the Cape Cod Canal. A cohesive and collaborative regional approach to developing this Blue Corridor, including outreach across the state border and canal, is now needed to create innovation-based, job-creating economic opportunity for the people and communities of this region.
Research by the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center has shown that the areas in the southeastern region of Massachusetts, including the SouthCoast and Cape Cod, operate as separate functional economic regions. In addition, because the region’s interaction with Greater Boston has been limited, thus excluding the region from the Greater Boston innovation economy over the past several decades, a new and focused regional economic strategy is overdue.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the maritime economy could more than double its contribution to the global economy – reaching $3 trillion by 2030, with an anticipated 40 million full-time jobs. With the advent of new technologies in blue economy-related industries, such as undersea robotics, marine sensing, renewable energy, biotechnology, communications hardware, information technology, and advanced materials, the region is poised to organize and build an ecosystem just as the global maritime economy is growing.
It is time, due to both necessity and possibility, for a formal Blue Economy initiative designed to strengthen collaboration.
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