Page 78 - South Mississippi Living - August, 2021
P. 78

               The Blue Economy
Ocean Aero’s Triton Unscrewed Maritime System.
   story by Kimberly C. Rasmussen
photos courtesy of the University of Southern Mississippi
The history of the Gulf Coast is steeped in maritime traditions, providing a cultural footprint we know and love today. While food and tourism are a crucial part of our economic growth, the Gulf Coast knows the devastating
effects that disasters – both natural and manmade – can have. If we are
to continue to grow, we must recognize additional avenues for economic success. We are fortunate to have a host of community leaders, academics, and dedicated citizens who have made it their goal to develop a plan to ensure that the Gulf Coast is positioned for continued and uninterrupted financial stability, growth, and success.
In 2018, the “Ocean Task Force” (OTF) – a group comprised of individuals from the education, private, federal, and nonprofit sectors – was created to determine the best methods by which the Gulf Coast could position itself as a leader among other coastal regions. It
was quickly acknowledged that our varying bodies of water generate distinctive testing environments for submersible vehicles and as a result, more small businesses could choose to relocate personnel to our area.
Academic partnerships between The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Port
of Gulfport helped distinguish the Gulf Coast as a leader in oceanic research and are paving the way
for the development of important marine technologies. Access to state- of-the-art testing equipment and our fluctuating weather patterns are areas in which the Gulf Coast offers something exceptional.
The OTF knew it was time to capitalize on these outstanding opportunities. By focusing on these core themes and highlighting our unique geographical position,
the Gulf Coast could become increasingly more competitive when trying to attract outside industries. The result of this study was a strategic plan aimed at capturing the best the Gulf Coast has to offer while leveraging these individual components into one marketable package. By placing an increased emphasis on growing our local economy and all that our shoreline has to offer, the Gulf Coast would be ready to fully embrace its “Blue Economy.”
Oceans, seas, harbors, ports, and coastal zones surround the areas that fall under the Blue Economy umbrella. Dr. Kelly Lucas, associate vice president for research, coastal
 USM Research Scientists deploy AUV Mola Mola.
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