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MSET to oversee new Gulf Coast marine industries cluster

technologyHANCOCK COUNTY — The Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MSET) at the Stennis Space Center has been selected to administer a new project to support small business growth in four Gulf of Mexico states.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) wrote a letter of support for the MSET application for a Marine Industries Science and Technology (MIST) Cluster, which was named one of four new regional innovative clusters by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The MIST Cluster will be centered along the I-10 corridor, incorporating Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

“The MIST Cluster proposal is intended to help small businesses access the tools they need to succeed by leveraging resources available at the Stennis Space Center and in other Gulf Coast states,” Cochran said. “I am pleased that the Small Business Administration has chosen to throw its support behind this proposal.”

MSET,a nonprofit organization that serves as a small business technology incubator at Stennis, will receive $500,000 to $550,000 from SBA to support the MIST Cluster. The focus of the cluster will be to implement strategies for developing businesses in the marine sciences and technology industries.

According to the SBA, the 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.’”

The MIST Cluster, along with three other new regional innovation clusters, expands the SBA initiative to 11 clusters nationwide. Other new initiatives named include a Wisconsin-based Water Technology Cluster, an Autonomous and Unmanned Systems Cluster in southeast New Mexico and a Retail, Ozarks Region Supply Chain and Food Processing Cluster involving Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The mission of each cluster is to link small businesses to regional networks of leading research, commercialization tools and financing. The four new clusters will receive roughly equal SBA financial support.

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