AMHERST, Mass. – A group of North Shore community leaders organized by the Cape Ann Innovators Collaborative (CAIC) and UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station will hold an event to discuss the economic development opportunities presented by the “blue economy” on Cape Ann and the North Shore from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 at Cruiseport Gloucester, 6 Rowe Square. The event is free and open to the public with registration.
Katie Kahl, extension assistant professor in sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience at the UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station and a member of CAIC, says, “We’re defining ‘blue economy’ as a sustainable marine economy that builds on the foundation of traditional marine and coastal assets and generates meaningful economic returns and job opportunities, all while helping to ensure the sustainable use and stewardship of the region’s precious coastal and ocean resources.”
“One ideal outcome for North Shore communities and the region,” she adds, “is new, sustainable job opportunities. Another is a comprehensive look at the data – information to inform a solid regional economic development plan, if that’s what is desired. Part of why we’re talking about these ideas and fostering the discussion is to understand how and if doing a North Shore follow-on study to the recent statewide study of the Massachusetts maritime economy is needed. And if so, what that looks like.”
The statewide study she refers to, “Navigating the Global Economy: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Massachusetts Maritime Economy,” is a 78-page report released recently by the Public Policy Center (PPC) at UMass Dartmouth. PPC executive director and co-author of the report, Professor Michael Goodman, will present highlights at this week’s meeting and review the status of Massachusetts marine sectors including fisheries and living resources, ship and boat building and repair, tourism and recreation and marine transportation.
Kahl and Goodman say this week’s blue economy meeting is one of several planned to identify what is needed to foster sustainable growth connected to resilient marine and coastal systems on the North Shore. An important goal is to incorporate lessons learned from past regional and local economic development efforts on Cape Ann to help regional leaders apply the insights developed by the statewide maritime economy study and support a regional effort to encourage sustainable, marine-dependent businesses and business opportunities on the North Shore, Kahl notes.
Among other things, the report funded by the Seaport Economic Council finds that the Massachusetts Maritime Economy is comprised of 5,555 establishments that employ 90,482 workers, pay $3.4 billion in total wages, and account for $6.4 billion in gross state product. “These businesses are a significant economic driver in Massachusetts, representing 2.6 percent of the Commonwealth’s direct employment and 1.3 percent of its direct gross state product.”
Additionally, “Employment in the industry compares favorably with other major sectors of the state’s economy, including the information and computer and electronic manufacturing sectors.”
Kahl adds, “For UMass, this effort will bring focus to the research needed around sustainable fisheries and coastal resilience to launch from the UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station. The collaboration between UMass Amherst and UMass Dartmouth is really valuable here and we hope to draw on expertise from other UMass campuses moving forward.”
After Goodman’s presentation at the Friday event, Kahl will moderate a panel discussion with North Shore leaders representing various interests, after which Rep. Ann Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) will lead audience Q&A.
Kahl says, “We hope to generate excitement and interest around the ideas connected to sustainable blue economy possibilities. Next steps will be to share the information with other North Shore champions, and define what the scope of work could look like for a North Shore follow-on study to Mike Goodman’s statewide work.”
Success from UMass Amherst Gloucester Marine Station’s point of view, she adds, would produce both tangible, sustainable economic development actions in the region and a solid evidence base from which researchers can identify new research projects with other institutions and private sector partners using the UMass Marine Station as a hub.