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LSSU receives CARES Act funding to support Center for Freshwater Research and Education

A rendering of the Lake Superior State University Center for Freshwater Research and Education is shown. LSSU received a $956,858 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the Economic Development Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce to purchase lab equipment to build capacity at the Center for Freshwater Research and Education, according to an announcement from LSSU. (Graphic courtesy of LSSU)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State University received a $956,858 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the Economic Development Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce to purchase lab equipment to build capacity at the Center for Freshwater Research and Education, according to an announcement from LSSU.

The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $239,215 in local funds, is expected to create 20 jobs and generate $14.2 million in private investment, officials said.

“We are ecstatic about this grant because it allows us to leverage our new building and our location at the nexus of three Great Lakes to become leaders in freshwater science and training while also creating opportunities to expand blue economy sectors in our region,” said CFRE Director Dr. Ashley Moerke in the announcement.

Opportunity Zones are meant to spur economic development nationwide; there are 288 in Michigan.

Jeff Hagan, CEO of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning & Development Commission, said in the announcement: “On behalf of the EUP Economic Development District, we are excited to see this EDA investment in CFRE at LSSU. It will no doubt be a boost to the area’s economy and build off the longstanding research the university has been involved in for decades while also helping to transform the St. Marys riverfront in Sault Ste. Marie.”

The CARES Act, signed into law by former President Donald J. Trump, provided the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dana Gartzke, EDA bureau head who performs the delegated duties of the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development said in the announcement: “This investment comes at a crucial time to help Michigan’s and our nation’s economy come roaring back. This project will build economic resiliency in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula by catalyzing new water-related industries and innovation through expanded training and research services to be provided through Lake Superior State University’s Center for Freshwater Research and Education.”

The EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they deal with COVID-19, officials said.

“This forthcoming project is the latest example how CFRE furthers part of LSSU’s mission to equip our students with the knowledge and practical skills to craft a life of meaningful employment while enhancing the quality of life of the Great Lakes region,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley in the announcement. “It also bolsters sustainability and advances our community partnerships, which are pillars of our strategic plan. LSSU and the Eastern U.P. will thrive all the more because of this. It’s a win-win.”

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