The Harold Alfond Foundation has made a $1.8 million “capstone” gift to support the expansion of the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education in the Washington County town of Beals. The announcement was made by the Foundation’s Chairman, Gregory Powell Thursday evening, March 1, at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland.
The Foundation’s gift represents the amount needed to complete a $5.8 million expansion of the Downeast Institute to include laboratory and other space for additional scientists, as well as to provide housing for visiting researchers and students. It comes on the heels of a University of Maine investment of $2 million toward the same expansion project using funds it had been awarded through the Maine Marine Jobs Bond, which was announced on January 20.
According to Powell, “The contributions of the Downeast Institute to aquaculture research, education and community are truly impressive. And given the Institute’s close relationship with the University of Maine System, which is now unifying the operations of its Orono and Machias campuses, we are especially glad to support the Institute’s expansion with our $1.8 million grant.
Chancellor James Page of the University of Maine System was also on hand to celebrate the achievement, which supports the system’s efforts to bring investment and opportunity to the Downeast region. Over the last three years, the System has invested over $900,000 in the partnership between the Downeast Institute and UMM in support of their applied marine research conducted all along the Maine coast in support of the state’s commercially important shellfish industry.
“The capacity for discovery, education, and support we are building at the University of Maine Machias’ Marine Science Field Station at the Downeast Institute will help Maine expand its global standing as a steward and supplier of marine resources.” Said Chancellor Page.
Dr. Brian Beal, a professor of marine ecology at the University of Maine at Machias and Director of its Marine Science Field Station, credits collaboration for bringing innovation and investment to the region. “The Downeast Institute will be the easternmost marine research laboratory and education center in the United States, offering world class facilities for researchers, unique educational opportunities for students, and resources for entrepreneurs. None of our individual institutions could have brought this kind of capacity for economic and educational opportunity to the people of Maine by ourselves.”
The lead $2 million gift needed for the project came from the Next Generation Foundation of Blue Hill Maine in October of 2014.