FORT BRAGG, CA, 9/8/22 — On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded an $825,230 grant to Fort Bragg’s Noyo Center for Marine Science, to further facilitate the development of an Ocean Science Center envisioned to bolster marine research, education, and tourism in Mendocino County.
This Noyo Center facility was first envisioned back in 2002, when the Georgia Pacific lumber mill site closed in Fort Bragg and the community began to debate desired directions for future development in the town. The Noyo Center, a nonprofit, launched in 2015; it now has a discovery center on Main Street, an interpretive center on the Noyo Headlands, and a brand new cafe in Noyo Harbor.
The EDA grant — funded by the American Rescue Plan and matched by $207,891 in local funds partially contributed through a partnership with the West Business Development Center — will support design work and a feasibility study for the Ocean Science Center.
Senator Alex Padilla said the project unites research and tourism, both “pillars of the California economy.” Congressman Jared Huffman said the Ocean Science Center will “benefit Mendocino County and our marine ecosystems for years to come.”
The funding is a big step toward creating the expansive marine research and visitor center on the headlands and shaping a blue economy, according to Noyo Center Executive Director Sheila Semans.
“We will be able to complete more detailed designs for our net zero energy facility, do the environmental review for the project, and develop a business plan that incorporates a blue economy incubation and connects our vision with the plans for growing marine science educational opportunities at Mendocino College,” she wrote in an email to The Mendocino Voice. “This will give us all the components we need to sell this project to funders, and realize the vision this community articulated over 10 years ago.”
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said the administration has been working to boost community response and recovery from COVID-19.
“This project will allow Mendocino County to leverage its tourism industry by establishing a world-class Ocean Science Center to conduct marine research, educate visitors and students, and generate sustainable economic opportunities,” she said in a news release.
Governor Gavin Newsom is also a supporter of the Noyo Center’s work.
“Mendocino County is home to miles of stunning coastline and other natural wonders that draw visitors from far and wide,” he said in a news release. “This grant will help further boost travel and tourism, supporting a state-of-the-art Ocean Science Center to provide hands-on education for visitors, advance innovative research in marine science and spur new opportunities to support the region’s economy.”
Additional information about plans for the Ocean Science Center is available on the Noyo Center’s website. The feasibility studies and design work are being funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to American communities. EDA officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications on May 26; The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30.
More recent news from the Noyo Center: Noyo Center opens Slack Tide Café for coffee, pastries, and learning in the harbor
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.