It was announced at the Mississippi Restoration Summit this afternoon that nearly 38 million additional dollars is headed to the Coast.
This is all part of the Restore Act from the BP oil spill settlement. The money will fund seven new projects and three that are already in progress.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will receive $5 million for the existing work ready community program. Twelve million dollars will go to help dredging efforts in all three coastal counties. MDEQ Chief of Staff Chris Wells said, “The settlements established a 15 year payment period. We’re expecting a little over two billion dollars over the course of that time. We’re three years into the payment schedule now. We expect the next payment in April of next year.”
Since payments began from the settlement, $470 million have been assigned to projects.
A full list of projects being funded includes:
- Hancock County Marsh Living Shoreline (Additional $6 million in 2018; Total project $56 million) – This funding will add additional components to the Hancock Marsh Living Shoreline project currently funded through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment program. Currently six miles of living shoreline protection is complete and approximately 1.5 miles of additional marsh shoreline protection will be constructed with this new funding. This project protects and restores the Hancock County marsh complex which is the largest contiguous marsh complex in Mississippi.
- Beneficial Use of Dredge Materials for Marsh Creation and Restoration in Mississippi ($12 million) – This program will create new marsh as well as restoring and enhancing existing marsh through the beneficial use (BU) of dredge materials. This program will support the dredging needs in the three coastal counties and may utilize accumulated spoil materials to facilitate the material necessary for marsh restoration.
- Mississippi Sound Oyster Shell Recycling Program ($650,000) – This program will support the collection and utilization of discarded oyster shells for oyster cultch placement in the Mississippi Sound to support oyster restoration efforts. Additionally, this program will include an economic sustainability analysis.
- Pearl River Community College Workforce Center (Additional $4 million in 2018; Total RESTORE funding $7 million) – This project will enhance workforce training in Hancock County by supporting the establishment of a workforce training center focused on existing and future industry workforce training needs.
- Harrison County Rail Line Repair and Upgrades ($2.3 million) – This project will fund repairs and upgrades to the main rail spur servicing the Bernard Bayou Industrial District which is currently out of service. It will support existing industry and enhance the ability to attract new industry and jobs.
- Jackson County Corridor Connector Road (Additional $4.8 million in 2018; Total RESTORE funding $15 million) – This project will support the construction of an east-west corridor in Jackson County running parallel to Interstate 10 to the north connecting Mallett Road/Sangani Boulevard to Cook Road/Highway 609. This project will benefit the economy and transportation system continuity and traveler safety in the area.
- Work Ready Community Program (Additional $5 million in 2018; Total RESTORE $9 million) – The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) Work Ready Community Program includes a basic skills training component and industry-specific workforce training programs. This program assists regional workforce training and economic development efforts. With the additional funding, MGCCC will establish an Unmanned Systems Technology Training program and continue the current program activities.
- Gulf Seafood Marketing Program ($400,000) – The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ Seafood Marketing Program promotes the sale and use of Gulf seafood to consumers, dealers, and restaurant owners and chefs to benefit the local seafood industry and economy.
- Mississippi Aquarium (Additional $1.35 million; Total RESTORE funding $18.35 million) This funding is a portion of the construction costs of the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport to provide visitors with a world-class family attraction and interactive science, education, interpretive and research opportunities for exploring marine habitats and fisheries in the Gulf ecosystem. This project will boost the tourism offerings and economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Air Service Growth Program ($1.2 million) – This project helps promote tourism by enhancing affordable air service development at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Affordable commercial air service is a necessary component to the economic growth and recovery of the Gulf Coast’s economy and thriving tourism industry.