The new state budget Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week includes $150,000 for a new marine program to be run by the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute in coordination with the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries.

It also carries $125,000 in matching grant money for Gloucester's approaching 400th anniversary celebration, and money for service programs such as The Open Door, Wellspring House and The Grace Center.

But while a $2 million package to boost the Fishing Partnership — which provides health care coverage, safety training, and legal and financial services to fishermen and their families — and $1.3 million for new infrastructure and technology for the GMGI project are included in a House economic bill, those dollars are not in the Senate version and must be hashed out in conference committee, Andrew Tarr, chief aide to state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, confirmed Monday.

The funding for the GMGI/stateprogram  and the money to help with the planning for Gloucester's 400th anniversary celebration in 2023 were both part of the $41.9 billion fiscal 2019 budget signed by the governor last Thursday.

The budget also included $75,000 to improve Gloucester's public safety communications systems, but that money was vetoed by the governor. The House overrode the veto, Tarr said, but the state Senate had not yet taken up its override veto of that money as of Monday morning, he said.

The $150,000 for the GMGI project would allow for the development and implementation of a state marine genomics program run by GMGI in partnership the Department of Marine Fisheries and UMass. The project is the latest for the burgeoning GMGI, which is leasing a third of the 18,600-square-foot, two-story building owned by Sheree Zizik and James Davis's Back Shore LLC off Main Street between Rose Marine and Steve Connolly's Seafood. The corporation is building a research institute and lab with the help of a $2.7 million state grant received in 2017 from the Massachusetts Life Science Center.

“GMGI has already begun to make an impact on Cape Ann," Ferrante said in a prepared statement, noting that its Gloucester Biotechnology Academy is welcoming its third class of lab-ready students. "... This will help to establish Cape Ann as a beacon of marine genomics research, and provide new data on marine resources in order to help both our fishermen and the environment.”

The $125,000 for Gloucester's approaching 2023 quadricentennial will require a $125,000 match from the nonprofit Gloucester Celebration Corporation, the organization in charge of planning festivities and fund-raising for Gloucester’s 400th birthday.

In addition, money secured in the state budget includes:

$75,000 for The Grace Center, which provides day programs and services for the homeless and for others with mental health, substance abuse and other needs.

$50,000 for Wellspring House's "Ability to Benefit" program. The partnership between Wellspring and North Shore Community College provides an avenue for adult students with work experience but without a general equivalency high school diploma to enter NSCC. 

$25,000 for The Open Door food pantry and social service program for a food rescue and composting project.

The still pending economic bill as passed by the House would deliver another $1.3 million for upgrading infrastructure and technology to help GMGI reel in more marine genomics data being "harvested in Gloucester," Ferrante said in her prepared statement.

The $2 million for the Fishing Partnership would boost the annual state's allocation for the Fishing Partnership to help provide health insurance and other services to more than 7,000 fishing families on Cape Ann and in other Massachusetts fishing communities. More than 700 households in Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex utilize services provided by the Fishing Partnership, Ferrante said.

“As the daughter of a fisherman and an attorney who represented those in the fishing industry, I understand the challenges that fishermen and their families face in getting affordable health care coverage and navigating through legalese instead of the ocean,” she said. “The Fishing Partnership provides a critical service to members of this industry that are often overlooked.”

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705 or rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.

 

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