Ribbon is cut on new $12 million dollar marine research center

Ribbon is cut on new $12 million dollar marine research center
A big day in downtown Gulfport

GULFPORT MS (WLOX) -With the ribbon cutting over, a new era in marine scientific research is now underway. A crowd of 200 participants now knows what the future holds for this center.

Director Dr. Monty Graham says, “We support our research vessel, the Point Sur. We’ve got our brand-new ocean engineering degree program, and we also run our unmanned maritime systems course, primarily for the Navy.”

Five years ago, no one would have thought a commercial port and a public university would become teammates. But times have changed, as port director Jonathan Daniels explained.

“It’s the melding of the blue and green economies. It’s something very far afield from what the port has traditionally been involved in,” he said.

Many feel this type of arrangement will become the norm and not the exception. That includes the president of USM, Dr. Rodney Bennett.

“I think that partnerships are just part of the way forward for every industry. But certainly for public higher education across the country. The more we can partner with other agencies and industry, the better for everybody involved,” he explained.

And better for everyone who might be looking for a job. That was the message of Governor Phil Bryant.

“The research and development opportunities that we have could put thousands of young Mississippians to work exploring our Gulf, determining what future opportunities it holds. Make sure they are here at the gateway of the ocean,” he said.

This new center could also be yet another catalyst for even bigger and better things coming to downtown Gulfport, according to mayor Billy Hewes.

“We’re getting a lot of interest from a technical standpoint. We think it’s going to lead to a lot more economic development, higher paying jobs and a lot of opportunity, so there’s a lot of enthusiasm for a lot of reasons here.”

Even though the ribbon cutting was today, the research center has actually been open since July and has already played host to one oceanographic conference.

Governor Bryant also told the crowd to expect another big announcement concerning marine research on the coast sometime in the near future.

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