GLOUCESTER — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $2.9 million in Seaport Economic Council Grants to support nine projects in seven communities. These grants will help advance the mission of the Seaport Economic Council to support working waterfronts, local tourism, coastal resilience, maritime innovation and the Commonwealth’s robust Blue Economy. The grants were approved at a Seaport Economic Council meeting, chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito at Gloucester’s Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library.

“Massachusetts’ coastal assets are incredibly important to the state’s overall economic health, and our administration’s investments through the Seaport Economic Council continue to expand capacity, resiliency and opportunity in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to continue to offer these competitive grant programs, and partner with local leaders to protect these natural resources and capitalize on their benefits.”
“By investing in locally-grown proposals that respond to a need or plan for the future, the Seaport Economic Council is partnering with communities to continue the momentum that we have seen in the Blue Economy in recent years,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Chair of the Council. “We are thrilled to make this funding available today for these nine planning and infrastructure projects, and to encourage communities with saltwater dredging needs to submit applications for the next grant round.”
Since its re-launch by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2015, the Seaport Economic Council has invested over $44 million through 96 grants in 42 coastal communities, funding projects ranging from local priorities to shared Commonwealth wide initiatives. In the round of grants approved today, the Council is awarding $2.34 million to support coastal infrastructure projects that include commercial fishing pier reconstruction and complete marina renovations.
This round of grants also provides more than $580,000 in maritime economic planning grants to help fund projects such as waterway improvement plans and harbor master plans that seek to identify opportunities to increase economic activity at established waterfronts and address the challenges due to climate change.
“We are pleased to make these investments in diverse coastal communities from Cape Ann to Cape Cod to the Southcoast, and will continue to partner with all 78 of the Commonwealth’s seaside cities and towns to ensure they have the resources, technical assistance, and infrastructure to address challenges and continue to thrive economically,” said Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Tim McGourthy, Vice Chair of the Seaport Economic Council.
Today’s meeting of the Seaport Economic Council took place in Gloucester, and the City was awarded a $240,000 local maritime economic planning grant. Due to an evolving economy, which continues to respond to such pressures as fishing regulation and climate change, the City of Gloucester is looking to capitalize on new opportunities in marine research and product development. The City will embark on a planning process to update the 2014 Gloucester Harbor / DPA Master Plan, to reinforce its seafood industry base while taking into consideration the challenges of climate change and opportunities in the marine research and development sector and life sciences cluster.

“Gloucester’s historic, working waterfront has always been and continues to be the center of both civic and commercial activity in the City. Gloucester Harbor is the city’s most valuable asset, making planning for its future central to all economic and community development activity,” said Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Theken. “Updating our harbor plan will allow us to strategically plan for growth by capitalizing on new opportunities while leveraging our unique assets to support job creation, business expansion, and economic development.  Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration and my colleagues on the Seaport Economic Council for recognizing the critical role harbor research and planning play in the Massachusetts economy.”

“Gloucester Harbor is a unique and precious resource that is important today, and has tremendous potential for the future. Capturing that potential and strengthening current uses of the harbor undoubtedly requires careful planning and an inclusive conversation with the community. This grant provides us with the needed funding to do those things, in a comprehensive and professional way,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.  “Thanks to the Seaport Economic Council and the Baker-Polito Administration for recognizing and responding to this priority for our port.”

"We appreciate the support of Baker-Polito Administration and the Seaport Economic Council for funding to conduct a Gloucester Harbor and Designated Port Area Plan,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, House Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “Undoubtedly, Gloucester Harbor is one of the area's greatest assets for economic development and job creation. In the last decade, Gloucester managed to maintain our fishing industry while allowing for other significant marine uses such a research. The City of Gloucester will now have the opportunity for public engagement and planning as we move into the next decade."

The Council awarded over $1.2 million to North Shore based projects to support coastal infrastructure projects and maritime economic planning grants, including the Gloucester project, $840,000 for ferry dock repairs and $160,000 for harbor and waterfront master planning in Salem, and $48,000 for repairing a commercial fishing pier in Beverly.

“I am extremely grateful to the Baker Administration and our legislative partners who made this funding available, and also to the other members of the Seaport Economic Council and to our own City staff who worked so hard to secure these funds,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. “This $1 million grant award will go to support critical efforts along Salem’s historic and vibrant waterfront. For over a decade we have focused on establishing Salem’s historic port as a central part of our economic strength and our community’s vitality. Our connection to our waterfront is and always has been one of Salem’s defining assets and greatest economic forces. We have enlivened our port with new industries, recreational amenities, tourism opportunities, and alternative transportation options. This latest Seaport Economic Council grant award will be especially beneficial as we work to expand Salem Harbor’s facilities and increase visitation to our City by water.”

“Our waterfront offers professional and recreational opportunities to residents of and visitors to the North Shore,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “I am grateful to the Seaport Economic Council for granting funds to Salem and Beverly so they can plan, design, and permit the harbor and the pier to make optimal use of our precious coastal resources.”

“I want thank the Seaport Economic Council and the Baker-Polito Administration for supporting Salem with key resources to assist the strategic planning efforts underway to enhance our waterfront port as we look ahead to future uses for commercial and recreational development,” said Representative Paul Tucker. “This is an exciting opportunity for our historic waterfront area to modernize and improve the Salem experience for residents and visitors.”

“I appreciate the Baker-Polito administration providing this funding for an important asset to the City of Beverly,” said Representative Jerry Parisella. “The fishing and maritime industry play an important role in our region's economy and this project will help sustain those who make their living utilization the natural resources of our coast.”

On the Southcoast, the Seaport Economic Council awarded $1.4 million in grants to several infrastructure projects such as the $1 million project in Fairhaven for wharf repairs, $336,000 to Mattapoisett for a wharf stabilization project as well as to fund a municipal waterways plan, and $64,000 to Dartmouth to fund a feasibility study at Dias Town Landing.

“The Town of Fairhaven is very appreciative of the support given to our town by the Seaport Economic Council led by Lt. Governor Karyn Politio,” said Fairhaven Town Administrator Mark Rees. “This major grant will allow us to continue to rebuild and stabilize our Union Wharf which since its construction in colonial times has served as a major economic development driver for our community and our neighbors in the Fairhaven-New Bedford Harbor."
“When the legislature funded the council over 20 years ago, and in subsequent years since, we sought to make key investments in critical ports like New Bedford,” said Senator Mark Montigny, who helped create the Seaport Council’s initial funding in 1996.  “This latest round of funding will help Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Mattapoisett plan for the future and maximize our waterfront’s economic potential.”

“These investments reflect the importance of maintaining public access to both recreational and commercial users of our coast in both Mattapoisett and Fairhaven. I want to thank Governor Baker’s administration for recognizing the important contributions made by port assets to the regional economy,” said Representative Bill Straus.

Finally, the Seaport Economic Council also awarded $240,000 to the town of Dennis to support Stage 1 of a two-stage project to improve and enhance the municipal marina facility at Sesuit Harbor consisting of the design, engineering and permitting of infrastructure upgrades at the municipal marina. Sesuit Harbor is an economic driver for the community and region, one of the few harbors on the north side of Cape Cod that is accessible to commercial and recreational boaters at any tide.

“On behalf of the Town of Dennis, I would like to sincerely thank the Seaport Economic Council for considering our application for design and engineering services for renovations at Sesuit Harbor,” said Town Administrator Elizabeth Sullivan. “Sesuit Harbor is one of only several harbors on Cape Cod that is accessible at all tides.  It is homeport to a variety of commercial operations and a popular destination for thousands of recreational boaters annually.  Like so many other Cape towns, Dennis recognizes the importance of our harbor and waterways and the environmental, social, economic and cultural significance embodied therein.  We appreciate the Seaport Economic Council’s support in our efforts to preserve and protect this valuable resource.”

“Sesuit Harbor is a jewel in the Mid Cape region and is a hub for commercial and recreational boating, charter fishing, and other important commerce,” said Representative Timothy R. Whelan. “We are very grateful to the Seaport Economic Council and Lt. Governor Polito for their commitment to coastal communities and supporting important works like the renovations of the Sesuit Harbor Municipal Marina.”

Today, Lt. Governor Polito also announced the opening of the second round of the Massachusetts Dredging Program. This standalone grant program offers focused funding for saltwater dredging on a competitive, annual basis. Grant funding will help coastal communities maintain and improve their navigational waterways and support the long-term growth and sustainability of the state’s blue economy. Last year, the Administration awarded a total of $4.1 million to five communities: Beverly, Chatham, Dennis, Hingham and Nantucket.
Any Massachusetts coastal communities are eligible to apply to the dredging program’s 2020 grant round. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, with a particular emphasis placed on shovel-ready projects that contribute to the economic significance, recreational value, public safety, and/or coastal resiliency of Massachusetts’ coastal harbors. Applications will be accepted between March 18, 2020 and April 1, 2020 and will be evaluated by the program administrator, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), in consultation with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. EOHED requires a minimum 50% match for any application to be considered.
Applications for the Massachusetts Dredging Program 2020 grant round will be posted March 4, 2020 and are due April 1, 2020. Learn more at
Investments in coastal communities are crucial to Massachusetts’ economy, safety, and environment. The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to provide resources and programs, like Seaport Economic Council grants and Massachusetts Dredging Program awards, to ensure that coastal communities can improve, strengthen, and protect the Commonwealth’s coastal assets.