MARINETTE - The Marinette County Association for Business & Industry, Inc. applauded today's action by members of the State Building Commission to release $5 million in a non-state agency grant for the construction of a Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence (MCOE) facility in northeast Wisconsin.

"We are deeply grateful for the support from the governor, Building Commission and State of Wisconsin for their commitment to northeast Wisconsin with the investment being made today that will help strengthen our state's maritime industry," said Ann Hartnell, MCABI's executive director.

The planned 23,715 square-foot, facility will provide a community based training, educational, research and entrepreneurship center to help support the region's maritime and shipbuilding cluster. The project includes land acquisition, infrastructure development, and construction of the facility.

The state will provide a $5-million dollar matching grant, while MCABI has secured required non-state funds of $6,658,000, bringing the total cost of the project to $11,658,000.

"Construction of the Maritime Center of Excellence will serve as a multiplier in the growth and viability of Wisconsin's shipbuilding economy and will be a catalyst for much needed skilled workforce training and job creation in the region," Hartnell said.

Marinette County and the region have a long history in the maritime and shipbuilding industry employing more than a third of the region's workforce. Manufacturing is the largest business sector in the area led by one of the nation's premiere shipbuilding manufacturers, Marinette Marine Corp., located in Marinette.

The center will be a one-story facility to provide a community based training, educational, research and entrepreneurship center to support the maritime and shipbuilding industry in Marinette County.

All components will be located in one building to promote collaboration and innovation. The facility will have the capacity to house seven maritime/shipbuilding supplier tenants on site, key industry consultants and other related companies.

"Northeast Wisconsin has a rich heritage in the shipbuilding industry," said Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, in a statement released Wednesday. "The center will help in continued growth in this industry and continued job opportunities in our region."