BARNSTABLE –Officials with the Cape Cod Commission and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce met with the state’s Secretary for Housing and Economic Development on Wednesday to discuss the Cape Cod Blue Economy Project.
The state’s Seaport Economic Council (SEC) awarded the Cape Cod Blue Economy Project a planning grant last year and Secretary Jay Ash was introduced to the project and updated on the work that’s been completed to date.
The project catalyzes the Cape Cod region’s coastal marine and aquatic-based economy to invigorate our resilient communities.
“We’re trying to emphasize the importance of healthy water to our economy, really if we don’t have health water here we don’t have an economy,” said Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce Chief of Staff Chris Adams. “Really, the environment is our economy here and their inexplicably tied together.”
According to the officials, over 12,000 jobs in the region are supported by the hospitality sector with about $2.1 billion directly spent by domestic and international guests.
Also, aquaculture is a $45 million industry in Massachusetts, and $22.5 million on Cape Cod.
Project officials held nine listening sessions in October and November and 86 people attended to give their input on industry, the community, environment, education and infrastructure.
Going forward, the Blue Economy Project will focus work on the vibrant maritime and technology economy, healthy water, healthy communities, being prepared and educated for the future and 21st century infrastructure.
Secretary Ash’s meeting with the Blue Economy Project officials, were one of many that he had with officials on the Cape.
“I heard a lot of things, a combination of reinforced stuff that I kind of heard but I wasn’t paying as much attention to as I should, and heard some new things,” said Secretary Ash. “I have a long list now of things I can’t wait to go back, to talk to the Governor about and get support for.”
Ideas that have been conceived by the project include mapping the blue economy, establishing a blue score decision-making tool for business and government, identifying worker skills gaps in marine industries and developing a working harbor needs analysis initiative.
Project officials expect to have a draft implementation plan by March 31 before applying for another SEC grant and having a final report for phase II by June 30.
By JUSTIN SAUNDERS, CapeCod.com Newscenter