Governor Phil Bryant announced the GoCoast 2020 Commission’s final report which is a compilation of work done by the group over the past five months.
In August, 2012, Gov. Bryant announced the creation of GoCoast 2020 to serve as the official advisory body for the allocation of funds received by the State of Mississippi under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act of 2011 (RESTORE).
Joined by the Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Trudy Fisher, who had a leadership role in the GoCoast 2020 Commission, Gov. Bryant highlighted the work of the GoCoast 2020 Commission.
“When we launched GoCoast 2020 last August, we all knew this would be a major undertaking that would require a lot of time, energy and a sincere spirit of cooperation among everyone involved,” Gov. Bryant said. “While we still don’t have all of the details or final federal regulations of how the Mississippi Plan will need to be formulated for RESTORE, we are ahead of the game and will be ready day one. That’s why I’m so grateful and appreciative of all of the time and work put into this GoCoast 2020 Final Report by so many people on the Coast.”
The RESTORE Act directs that 80 percent of certain penalties assessed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill be directed to the five Gulf Coast states impacted by the spill. GoCoast 2020 was established to set a foundation and road map of priorities for Mississippi so the state will be better prepared as the final federal guidelines and regulations are set forth under RESTORE.
Created by an Executive Order from Gov. Bryant, GoCoast 2020 was comprised of more than one hundred twenty business and community leaders, elected officials and citizens from across the three Mississippi Gulf Coast counties.
Gov. Bryant talked about the strong spirit of cooperation that went into the GoCoast 2020 effort saying, “I thank you for working together, for dreaming big and for creating a vision for the Mississippi Gulf Coast for many future generations to come. As tragic as the oil spill was, if we continue working together, we are going to turn it into a springboard which will catapult the Mississippi Gulf Coast forward.”
“This report is the result of focused conversations examining overarching goals and priorities to make the Coast better than it has ever been,” MDEQ Executive Director, Trudy Fisher said. “We have been handed an unprecedented opportunity to improve not only the environment and our natural resources but the lives of all residents on the Coast. Through the foresight of Governor Bryant, it’s a chance for us to lay a foundation for what will eventually be the “Mississippi Plan” for the RESTORE Act. This GoCoast 2020 Final Report clearly demonstrates that Mississippi is the leader in preparing for the use of RESTORE funds when they are available.”
As a Coast-driven process with the goal of including a broad representation of input into the Final Report, the GoCoast 2020 Commission relied on involvement from a wide range of people and expertise. Several hundred citizens attended and participated in the three listening sessions that were held in each of the three coastal counties in October, 2012. Through several months of meetings, workshops, public listening sessions, and extensive research, GoCoast 2020 focused on eight key areas related to the activities specified in the RESTORE Act. The purposes of this activity were to chart a vision and to provide a framework of recommendations that will protect the environment as the foundation of the coastal lifeblood, improve the job creation climate to increase economic opportunities, and enhance the unique quality of life for Mississippi’s coastal residents in the near term and for generations to come.
GoCoast 2020’s eight key areas of focus were:
• Economic development
• Workforce development
• Small business
• Research and education
The GoCoast 2020 Commission’s eight committees, called GoTeams, all identified several common threads that should be followed as the Mississippi Gulf Coast prepares for the implementation of the RESTORE Act. First and foremost, each GoTeam focused on the need for any project considered in the future under RESTORE to have as positive an impact as possible on the entire Coastal region, not just one single area.
Among the other shared goals of each GoTeam included the need for the long-term sustainability of any projects that are ultimately undertaken as a result of RESTORE. That includes financial stability so that there is a strong foundation in place for the Coast’s continued growth in the future.
The GoCoast 2020 Final Report can be viewed in its entirety at www.GoCoast2020.com.
Quotes from GoCoast Members
“Being cohesive and having a regional approach to economic development is absolutely the way to go for the future of the Gulf Coast.”
– Ed Day, Co-chair of the GoCoast 2020 Economic Development Committee
“GoCoast 2020 has been a great opportunity for the people of South Mississippi to give their input into what’s important to us here on the Gulf Coast. We’ve learned a lot over the past 6 or 7 years since Katrina as to how to best redevelop our communities. This is a great opportunity for us to give our own personal and professional opinions as to how we can best move our state forward.”
– Representative Scott Delano, Member of the GoCoast 2020 Economic Development Committee
“Getting the group of volunteers together and working daily throughout the last several months took leadership and patience from the Governor and Trudy Fisher. The end product is the assemblage of good ideas with the expectation that their implementation will result in continuously increasing value for years to come.”
– John Hairston, Co-chair of the GoCoast 2020 Tourism Committee