Learn more about the Seaport Economic Council Grant Program

Learn about the Seaport Economic Council grant program. Find out about the types of grants that are awarded.

Program Structure

Seaport Economic Council grants will be awarded on a competitive basis, and will offer flexible funding to empower communities to bring forward the best ideas and projects for stimulating the maritime economy and growing jobs.

Generally, five types of grants will be encouraged and prioritized for investment with maximum awards of about $1 million. Most grants, however, are anticipated to be much smaller.

Successful grant applications should seek funds for capital expenses rather than operating expenses.

  1. Innovation Grants: Innovation Grants function as a resource to invest in innovative ideas and projects that promote job creation and economic growth in the maritime sector. This sector includes: shipping and trade, marine science and technology, coastal recreation and tourism, ocean-based clean energy initiatives, and the seafood industry. Our partners at the John Adams Innovation Institute at MassTech administer the program.
  2. Local Maritime Economic Development Planning Grants: It is recognized that coastal communities vary in size and scope from deep-water port cities to small beach towns. These grants provide capacity for coastal communities to explore their unique advantages and generate economic development plans which help them realize their full potential, grow jobs, and maximize the maritime economic sector for their community. 
  3. Grants to Public Education Institutions: Grants for public education institutions range from fostering awareness of coastal assets and maritime traditions of the Commonwealth to investing in transformative public/private collaborations. Public educators from pre-k through higher education are eligible for this grant.
  4. Supportive Coastal Infrastructure Project Grants: Infrastructure grants are available when, in order to fulfill the job or economic growth potential within a coastal community, investments may need to be made in coastal infrastructure to achieve these aims. Best available science and information regarding potential threats to coastal communities from sea level rise and extreme weather events will be used to evaluate and improve the sustainability and resilience of projects in which the Council invests. 
  5. Dredging Design & Permitting Grants: This program provides pre- construction-phase funding, on a competitive basis, for saltwater dredging projects that contribute to the economic significance, recreational value, public safety, and/or coastal resilience of Massachusetts’ coastal harbors.

Matching funds of 20 percent of the total project cost is necessary. Acceptable sources of matching funds include the municipality, federal grants, private funds, or contributions by partner organizations.


The purpose of this program is to cultivate job and economic growth in the maritime sector. The program is open to all 78 coastal communities of the Commonwealth and other qualified public entities. In instances where the municipality is not the lead on a particular application, it is strongly suggested and sometimes required that the municipality serve as co-applicant. Grant funds are to be used for capital expenses. Preference will be given to those applications that demonstrate collaboration and joint applications are encouraged from entities with a proven track record in maritime sector strategy, maritime economic development, and the development of economically supportive and resilient coastal assets in a sustainable fashion.

Application Requirements


  • Clear articulation of the vision, goals and outcomes of the program.
  • Demonstration of how the program fits into the broader assessment and planning of the community’s needs and strengths.
  • For supportive infrastructure grants, demonstration of resiliency and sustainability of requested investment.
  • Inclusion of measureable outcome metrics.


  • Demonstration of strong partnerships among local elected officials and local state legislative leaders.
  • Integration of innovative and effective public/private collaborations.
  • Inclusion of regional partnerships where appropriate and relevant to program outcomes. 


  • Description of how the project is aligned with:
  • the maritime economic sector (shipping and trade; marine science and technology, coastal recreation and tourism; ocean-based clean energy initiatives; and the seafood industry) and/or
  • educational objectives and/or
  • local objectives and/or
  • state objectives for the maritime economy.

Project Readiness

  • Overview of roles and responsibilities (for joint applications).
  • Anticipated project budget including matching funds.
  • Description of project timetable, activities and responsible party for the activity.
  • Status of evaluation using best available science and information to guard against potential threats of rising sea levels and extreme weather events for supportive infrastructure grants. 

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed by the strength of the following criteria:

  1. Vision and Clarity
    1. Demonstrates the value of the program within the particular community (or region) and target area of the maritime economic sector
    2. Articulates the process, stakeholders and actions the program will take to support the community (or region) and target opportunity within the sector
    3. More competitive application will demonstrate how the program aligns with community assessments and planning. This includes cities participating in the Community Compact.
  2. Strong Partnerships
    1. Shows thoughtful compilation of partners
    2. Demonstrates capacity of partners involved in the program
    3. More competitive applications will have support from the city or town government and the legislature
    4. Innovation: leveraging existing strengths and developing new local capacity.
  3. Alignment
    1. Shows a clear target area of focus within the maritime sector with metrics and background
    2. Clearly articulates the needs of the target opportunity and the impact the project will have
    3. Demonstrates the sector opportunity within the community (or region)
  4. Resilience and Sustainability – Supportive Coastal Infrastructure Projects
    1. Coastal infrastructure project requests are evaluated using best available science and information regarding potential threats to coastal communities from rising sea levels and extreme weather events
    2. Approach to development demonstrates principles of resiliency and sustainability
  5. Ability to Execute
    1. The ability of the partners to execute the program
    2. Detail of the action plan and feasibility
    3. Clarity of the budget and matching funds
    4. Appropriateness of the timeline

Approximate Timetable for 2024-2025

The Seaport Economic Council will meet at least three times per year. Two of the meetings will be investment meetings, which will be dedicated to review and potentially approve qualified investments by the state.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

  • For consideration at the Summer 2024 Investment meeting of the Seaport Economic Council, applications must be received by June 1, 2024.
  • For consideration at the December 2024 meeting of the Seaport Economic Council, applications must be received by November 1, 2024.
  • For consideration at the Summer 2025 Investment meeting of the Seaport Economic Council, applications must be received by May 1, 2025.

Review Committee

Applications shall be reviewed by a committee of Port Professionals (the “Committee”) which is designated by the Chair of the Council. Port Professionals will be representative of coastal communities and will be comprised of subject matter experts in economic development in coastal communities, and the development of sustainable, resilient coastal and marine assets. 

Requests for funds that are both ready for assessment by the Committee and ready for implementation will be referred to the Committee. The Committee, with appropriate administrative and technical support from agencies of the Commonwealth, will assess all requests for funds referred to it, and shall make recommendations to the Council.

Contact   for Learn more about the Seaport Economic Council Grant Program


93 State Pier, New Bedford, MA 02740

Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.