Nine Mississippi economic development projects are getting a $50 million boost from oil-spill recovery money. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, Governor Phil Bryant announced the funding just before a meeting of the Restore Council in Biloxi Wednesday.
The projects range from ultra-high speed internet access; to a new connector road in Jackson County; to a trans-loading dock at Port Bienville.
"These nine economic restoration projects on the Mississippi Gulf Coast we hope will be as varied as the demand," he says.
The planned Gulfport aquarium will receive $17 million, the largest chunk of funding in this round.
"This is our land, our water, our air. Our hope with the new Mississippi aquarium is to bring not only a component for tourism, but research and development and education for the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Bryant says.
There's also $5 million designated for stream restoration, an environmental project Bryant says also has an economic link:
"What goes into the Gulf Coast begins in the streams north of here," he says. "We will make sure to the best of our ability that it is clean and safe. We believe this will reduce the number of times that we have to close the beaches, so in fact it will positively effect the tourism economy here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."
Bryant also spoke to the Restore Council, which approved another $21 million dollars for four Mississippi projects.
Gary Rikard is the governor’s designee on the council.
"They're all broadly ecorestoration projects," he says. "They run the gamut from estuary study program to land acquisition, and there's some education and outreach dollar projects in there also."
He says the state's largest project in this round is a land acquisition program.
"Properties that may be eroding, wetlands preservation, marsh preservation, that type of project," he says. "And the selection will be based on technical merit basis, willing sellers only, and the plan is we'll pay yellow-book prices for the properties."
The council on Wednesday approved more than $150 million dollars in funding across the five gulf states. The list of Mississippi projects can be found here.
The restore council also approved a formula for dividing the 30 percent of the RESTORE Act funds that are to be spent by the states but overseen by the council. Mississippi will receive 19 percent of the funds, or about $300 million dollars