MSET to oversee new Gulf Coast marine industries cluster

Mississippi Enterprise for Technology Awarded Contract from Small Business Administration for Marine Cluster Initiative

Stennis Space Center, MS – October 1, 2014: A U.S. Small Business Administration award of $523,742 will help the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET) at Stennis Space Center fortify its mission to put Mississippi on the map as a “center of activity” for the nation’s marine science and technology industry.

On Tuesday, Sept. 30, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced its support of four new Regional Innovation Clusters, adding to its portfolio of high-performing regional innovation networks across the country. Included in that group is the Marine Industries Science and Technology Cluster, I-10 Corridor (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida).

“The marine science and technology economic sector has been an asset for the Gulf Coast for a very long time,” said Charles E. Beasley, President and CEO of the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology. “This contract helps us build further identity for the cluster and initiates a support system that this industry has not yet seen in this region. It also provides the resources of SBA and the expertise of its staff and participant cluster organizations to give the local blue economy a new growth catalyst.”

Since its inception MSET has enjoyed a successful partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi, which serves as the corporation’s fiscal agent. The University collaborated with MSET to submit the SBA funding proposal. MSET also works closely with the University’s Department of Marine Science and the Business Innovation Assistance Center – both located at Stennis.

The Marine Industries Science and Technology (MIST) Cluster will focus on the Stennis Space Center’s ecosystem of world class marine technology research, the highest concentration of oceanographers in the world, and a broad consortium of federal and state partners to provide targeted support for the creation and growth of small businesses involved in “blue technology.”

Anticipated benefits from this partnership with SBA would include:

  • Creation of new jobs
  • Building synergy among cluster participants
  • Attracting industrial investment
  • Increasing the marketability of innovative technology

“The work of the Stennis Space Center (SSC) and its partners on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is second to none in the marine science and technology field,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “The economic impact from the SSC in the area is tremendous, and the U.S. Small Business Administration award will support continued growth of the ‘blue economy’ on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and enhance the work of the SSC and the region’s skilled workforce.”

Clusters are defined geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, universities, and associated institutions in a particular field that are present in a region and arise out of linkages or externalities across industries.


The four Regional Innovation Cluster awardees, ranging from $500,000 to $550,000, were selected from more than 40 applicants and represent a wide range of diverse geographic areas and industries. From urban to rural, and clean technology to autonomous systems, these cluster initiatives focus on the most effective approaches to linking small businesses to regional networks of leading research, commercialization tools and financing.

 SBA’s funding will be provided to each cluster’s organizing entity to strengthen opportunities for small businesses within the cluster. The funds will be used to provide mentoring and counseling services, mentor-protégé and team programming, and to showcase and pitch events to prospective investors and public-private sector adopters of new technology.

Since 2010, the SBA has invested in regional clusters throughout the United States.  The goal of the SBA’s involvement in clusters is to increase small business participation and economic activity.  For more information on the SBA’s clusters initiative, visit

 To view the SBA press release announcing Four New Regional Innovation Cluster Awards, visit

For more information on this project contact Laurie Jugan at 228-688-1192 or at




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